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

Group finds B.C. Archives collection licences costs prohibitive

Teachers asked to pay $25 per image to use on slideshows

Coalition campaigns to build new West Shore skate park

Group seeks $25,000 in donations for park proposed for near the Juan de Fuca rec centre

Royal Bay drama students help police train for emergency

Students helped train crisis negotiators by acting out scenarios

VIDEO: Restaurant robots are already in Canada

Robo Sushi in Toronto has waist-high robots that guide patrons to empty seats

Permit rejected to bring two cheetahs to B.C.

Earl Pfeifer owns two cheetahs, one of which escaped in December 2015

Real-life tsunami threat in Port Alberni prompts evacuation updates

UBC study says some people didn’t recognize the emergency signal

Care providers call for B.C. seniors’ watchdog to step down

The association also asks the province to conduct an audit and review of the mandate of her office

Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from B.C. roaster recalled due to botulism scare

“If you purchased N7 Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from Cherry Hill … do not drink it.”

Short list for new gnome home includes Parksville, Coombs

Five potential locations have been chosen by Howard’s owners who will decide Tuesday

B.C. man gets award for thwarting theft, sexual assault – all in 10 minutes

Karl Dey helped the VPD take down a violent sex offender

Baby left alone in vehicle in B.C. Walmart parking lot

Williams Lake RCMP issue warning after attending complaint at Walmart Wednesday

CRD land ideal for alternate route

Reader says old pipeline route best option

Most Read