Three Thousand Years of Human Impacts on California Mussels (Mytilus californianus): Historical Ecological Management Implications from the Northern Channel Islands

Campbell, Breana- San Diego State University
Todd Braje- San Diego State University

Zooarchaeological research on the Northern Channel Islands has demonstrated that fluctuation in average California mussel (Mytilus californianus) size through the Holocene is heavily influenced by human predation. These studies often rely on the measurement of whole shells from archaeological deposits, but can be limited due to taphonomic processes that fragment mussels. We recently developed a new method for estimating the total shell length of California mussels from hinge fragments and collected size data from Late Holocene archaeological deposits on the Northern Channel Islands. Our results were compared against records of paleo-sea surface temperatures and modern size data for California mussels collected in spring 2014. Our findings can be used as a proxy for California mussel size through the Late Holocene and used to establish deep historical baselines for the modern management of this critical intertidal marine resource.