SFU archaeologist Dana Lepofsky examines clams on a part of Quadra Island riddled with ancient clam gardens.

Ancient clam gardens highly productive, SFU study finds (with video)

Researchers tested prehistoric rock terraces built by First Nations to grow shellfish



Ancient aboriginal clam gardens dramatically boosted shellfish production by pre-contact coastal First Nations, according to new findings by SFU and University of Washington researchers.

Indigenous communities built rock-walled beach terraces to cultivate clams to help feed their burgeoning populations and the SFU-led study tested their effectiveness by transplanting hundreds of baby clams into six ancient clam gardens around Quadra Island.

They found the clams placed in ancient human-constructed terraces grew nearly twice as fast and were more likely to survive than baby clams transplanted into unmodified beaches in the same area.

“We discovered that by flattening the slope of the beach ancient clam gardens expanded the real-estate for clams at the intertidal height at which they grow and survive best,” SFU ecologist Anne Salomon said.

She said traditional knowledge from modern First Nations indicates their ancestors boosted the gardens’ productivity by adding ground clam shell and pebbles to them.”

Four times as many butter clams and twice as many littleneck clams grew in the ancient clam gardens as did on unmodified beaches studied, according to the study published in an online peer-reviewed journal.

SFU archaeologist Dana Lepofsky said it’s fortunate the team had both historic clam gardens to study and traditional cultural knowledge to guide them.

“The lessons learned here have global implications for food security and about the way indigenous people interact with their land and seascapes,” she said.

The study also found some modern shellfish aquaculture practices undermine shoreline ecosystems by altering their composition, changing sediment characteristics and enabling the introduction of invasive species.

Photo above: Archaeologist Dana Lepofsky examines clams on part of Quadra Island riddled with ancient clam gardens.

Slideshow

Just Posted

GALLERY: Storm causes damage along the waterfront in Greater Victoria

Municipal crews are cleaning up Monday following Sunday’s high wind and waves

Woodwynn Farms to be shut down and sold

The rehabilitation program at Woodwynn Farms is being shut down. According to… Continue reading

FISHING ADVENTURES: Winter fishing season in full swing

Upcoming fishing events include Local Pub’s Salmon Superbowl Derby and Victoria Boat Show

Victoria Women’s March draws hundreds

Pink pussy hats aplenty as demonstrators took to downtown streets

Sooke Riptide soccer team advances to Lisa Cup Finals

Riptide defeats Gorge in shootout on Saturday afternoon

Backyard of $2.2M Uplands property bulldozed for BMX jump track

34-year-old financial advisor fulfills childhood dream

Butchart Gardens is hiring now and paying more

Wages start at $15, job fair Feb. 20

Coal dust escaping rail cars spurs B.C. petition

Local governments are on board with Shuswap resident’s request for better control of escaping particulate

Cash still needed for Stelly’s Cross Path

MLA Olsen wants more specifics first

Vikes women run to 6-0, win first rugby sevens tourney of season

UVic Vikes this week: Hoops teams host shoot for the cure

Lawyers slam ‘de facto expulsion’ of student guilty of sexual interference

Calgary student guilty of sexual assault of a minor allowed to finish semester

B.C. NDP set to restructure union bargaining

School trustees to regain control over employer group

A new development surrounding plane that went missing around Revelstoke in November

The family of Ashley Bourgeault believe they have found a new clue

$130K could get you on a dive to the Titanic

Hot summer ticket: $130K could get you on a dive to the Titanic off Newfoundland

Most Read