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Defining Marginality Under Shifting Baselines: Historical Transformations of California’s Channel Island Ecosystems

Author(s): Todd Braje

Year: 2015

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Summary

Spanish arrival to California’s Channel Islands in AD 1542 marked the beginning of widespread ecological changes for island land and seascapes. Over the next several centuries, the Chumash and Tongva were removed to mainland towns and missions, sea otters were extirpated from local waters, commercial fisheries and ranching operations developed, and a variety of new domesticated plants and animals were introduced. The ecological fallout was both swift and extensive, resulting in new terrestrial floral and faunal communities, transformed hydrological systems, and exceptionally productive shellfisheries. While archaeologists have long recognized the pervasive effects of these historical transformations, it has only been in the last several years, after decades of restoration biology, that we have come to appreciate how dramatically baselines shifted after Spanish arrival. Island terrestrial ecosystems may still be considered marginal to their mainland counterparts, but the degree of this marginality and its influence on the evolution of Chumash socio-political systems bares reevaluation.

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Defining Marginality Under Shifting Baselines: Historical Transformations of California’s Channel Island Ecosystems. Todd Braje. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395129)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -125.464; min lat: 32.101 ; max long: -114.214; max lat: 42.033 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America