Thomas Royle

B.Sc. (Hons.): Archaeology, Minor in Biology, Trent University, 2012

M.A.: Archaeology, Simon Fraser University, 2014

Supervisor:  Dr. Dongya Yang         

Research Areas: Archaeology of the Pacific Northwest and Great Lakes; Archaeological Science, Ancient DNA, DNA Barcoding, Environmental Archaeology, Historical Ecology, Ichthyoarchaeology, Palaeoecology, Zooarchaeology.


Research Interest:

I am interested in exploring how the ancient DNA (aDNA) analysis of archaeological and paleontological fish remains can be used to test and inform archaeological interpretations. Specifically, my research uses the aDNA analyses of ancient fish remains to investigate the dynamics of the complex relationships between fish, people, and the environment over the longue durée. Currently, my research focuses on the ichthyoarchaeology of the Pacific Northwest and Great Lakes. Although I am primarily interested in fish remains, I have participated in aDNA projects focusing on remains from other taxa including aurochs, beluga whales, passenger pigeons, and ground squirrel

Ph.D. Research:

Despite their cross-cultural importance, few studies have applied ancient DNA analysis to archaeological fish remains. Consequently, the methods available for the aDNA analysis of fish remains are underdeveloped relative to those available for the aDNA analysis of mammals, and other more ‘charismatic’ fauna. For my dissertation research, I seek to address this methodological gap by developing and applying new DNA-based methods for the species and sex identification of archaeological fish remains.

M.A. Thesis:

Ancient DNA Analysis of Middle and Late Period Archaeological Fish Remains from Kamloops, British Columbia



Eric J. Guiry, Thomas C.A. Royle, Trevor J. Orchard, Suzanne Needs-Howarth, Dongya Y. Yang, and Paul Szpak. Evidence for Freshwater Residency among Lake Ontario Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) Spawning in New York. Journal of Great Lakes Research 46(4):1036-1043.


Thomas C.A. Royle, Dongya Y. Yang, and Jonathan C. Diver. Ancient DNA Reveals Northwest Range Extension of Richardson’s Ground Squirrel (Urocitellus richardsonii) into Northeastern British Columbia, Canada, during the Late Pleistocene. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 57(7):855-866.


Eric J. Guiry, Thomas C.A. Royle, R.G. Matson, Hillary Ward, Tyler Weir, Nicolas Waber, Thomas J. Brown, Brian Hunt, Michael H.H. Price, Bruce P. Finney, Masahide Kaeriyama, Yuxue Qin, Dongya Y. Yang, and Paul Szpak. Differentiating Salmonid Migratory Ecotypes through Stable Isotope Analysis of Collagen: Archaeological and Ecological Applications. PLoS ONE 15(4):e0232180.


Thomas C.A. Royle, Hua Zhang, Eric J. Guiry, Trevor J. Orchard, Suzanne Needs-Howarth, and Dongya Y. Yang. Investigating the Sex-Selectivity of a Middle Ontario Iroquoian Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) and Lake Trout (Salvelinus namaycush) Fishery through Ancient DNA Analysis. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 31:102301.


Paul Szpak, Marie-Hélène Julien, Thomas C.A. Royle, James M. Savelle, Dongya Y. Yang, and Michael P. Richards. Sexual Differences in the Foraging Ecology of 19th Century Beluga Whales (Delphinapterus leucas) from the Canadian High Arctic. Marine Mammal Science 36(2):451-471.


Eric J. Guiry, Trevor J. Orchard, Thomas C.A. Royle, Christina Cheung, and Dongya Y. Yang. Dietary Plasticity and the Extinction of the Passenger Pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius). Quaternary Science Reviews 233:106225.


Dawei Cai, Naifan Zhang, Siqi Zhu, Quanjia Chen, Lixin Wang, Xin Zhao, Xiaolin Ma, Thomas C.A. Royle, Hui Zhou, and Dongya Y. Yang. Ancient DNA Reveals Evidence of Abundant Aurochs (Bos primigenius) in Neolithic Northeast China. Journal of Archaeological Science 98:72-80.


Thomas C.A. Royle, Dionne Sakhrani, Camilla F. Speller, Virginia L. Butler, Robert H. Devlin, Aubrey Cannon, and Dongya Y. Yang. An Efficient and Reliable DNA-Based Sex Identification Method for Archaeological Pacific Salmonid (Oncorhynchus spp.) Remains. PLoS ONE 13(3):e0193212.