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Ancient Clam Gardens and Ecological Enhancement on Northern Quadra Island, BC

Author(s): Ginevra Toniello ; Dana Lepofsky ; Kirsten Rowell

Year: 2017

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Clam gardens, anthropogenic rock-walled terraces built at the lowest intertidal, are part of an ancient system of mariculture of the Indigenous people of the Northwest Coast of North America. The construction of clam gardens increased shellfish production by increasing ideal clam habitat and creating substrate preferred for clam growth. On Northern Quadra Island, where there is a dense concentration of clam gardens, we assess bivalve productivity of clam gardens by 1) calculating how much clam habitat is created by constructing clam garden terraces; and 2) comparing the growth rate of clam shells from clam gardens with those from non-cultural contexts. In Kanish Bay, over 80 clam garden features result in an increase of 20,000 to 34,000m2 of clam habitat. Butter clam (Saxidomus gigantea) specimens spanning 11,500 years allow us to analyze patterns of clam growth throughout Holocene. By expanding our ecological understanding of clam gardens, this analysis enhances our understanding of the extensive ecological knowledge of marine environments held by coastal First Nations. 

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Cite this Record

Ancient Clam Gardens and Ecological Enhancement on Northern Quadra Island, BC. Ginevra Toniello, Dana Lepofsky, Kirsten Rowell. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430928)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -169.717; min lat: 42.553 ; max long: -122.607; max lat: 71.301 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15448

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