Productivity of Ancient Clam Gardens on Northern Quadra Island, British Columbia

TONIELLO, Ginevra - Simon Fraser University and Hakai Institute
Dana LEPOFSKY - Dept. of Archaeology, Simon Fraser University and Hakai Institute
Kirsten ROWELL - Department of Biology and Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, University of Washington



Clam gardens are a form of ancient mariculture observed all along the Northwest Coast from Alaska to Washington. A dense concentration of clam gardens on northern Quadra Island, British Columbia had a significant impact on past ecological and social landscapes. The construction of clam gardens not only increased the area of clam habitat but also enhanced shellfish ecology, ultimately aiding in clam growth. In my research, I will assess the degree to which clam gardens increased ancient food production by 1) documenting total increase in clam habitat; 2) comparing the growth rate of clam shells from clam gardens and natural contexts; and 3) analyzing the sediments from clam gardens and natural clam habitats to determine the benefits of clam gardens to clam growth. Expanding our understanding of clam gardens will allow us to better understand the extensive ecological knowledge of marine environments held by coastal First Nations.