M.A. Theses: Ginevra Toniello, 2017
11,000 Years of Human-Clam Relationships on Quadra Island, Salish Sea, British Columbia
The historical ecological approach provides unique insights into the relationship between
humans and clams throughout the Holocene. Combing archaeological and palaeo-fossil
records provides a time depth of clam history both with and in the absence of intensive
human predation. These results show that butter clam (Saxidomus gigantea) growth was
naturally improving from the early-to-mid Holocene and that humans took advantage of
the expanding clam resources. Clam garden construction around 2,000 BP promoted the
sustainability of clams, and despite increased harvesting pressure there is no evidence
for resource depression. Since European contact, decline of traditional management
practices and increases in industrial activities have resulted in reduced clam growth
rates. Growth rates of living clams reflect the stunted growth of post-glacial early
Holocene clams, making them the slowest growing clams in the past ~10,000 years.
Deeper-time baselines more accurately represent clam population variability throughout
time and are useful for modern coastal resource management.
Keywords: historical ecology; clam gardens; archaeology; palaeoecology; traditional