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Human Impacts on Nearshore Shellfish Taxa: A 7,000 Year Record from Santa Rosa Island, California

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Todd J. Braje
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon 97403-1218 USA (tbraje@uoregon.edu, dkennett@uoregon.edu, jerland@uoregon.edu, bculleto@uoregon.edu)
Douglas J. Kennett
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon 97403-1218 USA (tbraje@uoregon.edu, dkennett@uoregon.edu, jerland@uoregon.edu, bculleto@uoregon.edu)
Jon M. Erlandson
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon 97403-1218 USA (tbraje@uoregon.edu, dkennett@uoregon.edu, jerland@uoregon.edu, bculleto@uoregon.edu)
Brendan J. Culleton
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon 97403-1218 USA (tbraje@uoregon.edu, dkennett@uoregon.edu, jerland@uoregon.edu, bculleto@uoregon.edu)

Abstract

Within the broad framework of historical and behavioral ecology, we analyzed faunal remains from a large habitation site (CA-SRI-147) on Santa Rosa Island to explore a 7,000 year record of coastal subsistence, nearshore ecological dynamics, and human impacts on shellfish populations. This long, stratified sequence provides a rare opportunity to study the effects of prolonged human predation on local intertidal and nearshore habitats. During the past 7,000 years, the Island Chumash and their predecessors had significant impacts on nearshore ecosystems, caused by growing human populations and depletion of marine and terrestrial ecosystems. At CA-SRI-147, local depletion of higher ranked shellfish species stimulated dietary expansion and a heavier reliance on lower-ranked shellfish taxa and more intensive exploitation of nearshore and pelagic fishes. In the Late Holocene, as local ecosystems were increasingly depleted, the Island Chumash relied increasingly on craft specialization and trade to meet their subsistence needs. Native peoples clearly impacted Channel Island ecosystems, but data from CA-SRI-147 suggest that they adjusted their subsistence strategies toward productive fisheries that sustained the high population densities and sociopolitical complexity recorded by early Spanish chroniclers at European contact.

Résumé

Résumé

Dentro de los marcos amplios de la ecología histórica y la ecología del comportamiento, analizamos los restos faunisticos de un sitio habitacional grande (CA-SRI-147) en la Isla Santa Rosa para investigar el historial de 7000 años de subsistencia costera, la dinámica ecológica cercana a la costa, y los impactos humanos sobre poblaciones de mariscos. Esta secuencia larga y estratificada nos provee de la rara oportunidad de estudiar las consecuencias de depredación humana prolongada en hábitats locales litorales y cercanos a la costa. En los últimos 7000 años, la Isla Chumash y sus predecesores tenían un gran impacto sobre los ecosistemas cercanos a la costa, causado por las poblaciones humanas cada vez mayor y el agotamiento de ecosistemas marinos y terrestres. En CA-SRI-147, el agotamiento local de especies de mariscos de alto rango promovió la expansión dietética, más dependencia de los mariscos de taxa de bajo rango, y la explotación más intensiva de los pescados pelágicos y cercanos a la costa. En el Holoceno tardío, cuando los ecosistemas locales fueron agotados cada vez más, la Isla Chumash se basó cada vez más en la especialización artesanal y el comercio para satisfacer sus necesidades de subsistencia. Aunque la población indígena tenía un impacto claro sobre los ecosistemas de las Islas Channel, los datos arqueológicos de CA-SRI-147 dan a entender que ajustaron las estrategias de subsistencias a pesquerías productivas que habrían sostenido las altas densidades demográficas y la complejidad sociopolítica anotado por los cronistas españoles del contacto europeo.

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Copyright © The Society for American Archaeology 2007

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