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.
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Thesis advisor: Lepofsky, Dana
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