Dr. Salvatore is an archaeologist who focuses on the ecology and prehistory of hunter-gatherers, and on how humans have interacted with their environment in the past. Most of his work to date has concentrated on Neanderthals and early Homo sapiens, and especially on the disappearance of Neanderthals, a topic he has studied extensively in Italy where he has been working since 2003. He also participated in several field projects in Italy, Spain, Ethiopia, South Africa and the US Southwest.
Currently, he is directing work at the Paleolithic site of the Caverna delle Arene Candide, in the region of Liguria in northern Italy. With his Italian colleagues, they have exposed a nearly continuous sequence of deposits beginning some 30,000 years ago, which provides a unique archive to track how human behavior changed through time, notably in response to climate change and resource fluctuation. This project began during a postdoctoral fellowship he held at McGill University (Montreal, Canada), after he completed his doctoral studies at Arizona State University.
Some of his recent work has sought to apply niche construction theory as a useful conceptual framework for looking at the human past. NCT encourages researchers to look at the dynamic evolutionary interplay between biology, culture and ecology to understand how given evolutionary trajectories came to be. Since archaeology by its very nature looks at the long-term, the discipline provides a natural body of evidence of how humans have engaged with and modified their environments to suit their needs, often with unexpected consequences in the long run. He has recently edited (with L. Pyne) a special issue of the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory on the topic of "Archaeological Perspectives on Niche Construction Theory" in which he and several colleagues explore some of these issues.