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

Trans Canada highway closed for car fire near Malahat Summit

Drive BC says the road will be closed until approximately 3pm

Police still investigating possible child abduction in Langford

Suspect was a stranger and not a family member

Car veers off Pat Bay Highway, into pedestrian path near Sidney

Lone driver of the vehicle escaped with minor injuries after crashing into fence around construction site

New UVic buildings expand student housing by 25 per cent

Over 600 new beds mean off-campus housing freed up for affordable housing for Victoria residents

Saanich, Langford receive fewer affordable housing units than Victoria, Esquimalt

Coun. Nathalie Chambers calls Saanich’s share of new units “very unfair” considering its size

First ticket sold for Victoria’s second comic con

Guest list is top-secret for the March 22-24 Capital City Comic Con coming 2019

Ten-year sentence for man convicted of B.C. belt-strangling death

Shayne McGenn guilty of manslaughter in 2016 death of David Delaney, 63

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 14

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Have BC Ferry waits ever forced you to cancel your travel plans?

Many BC Ferry passengers heading out from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen on… Continue reading

VIDEO: ‘Teddy’s Trial’ adjourned until Dec. 4 to give Joe time to get new lawyer

Lawyer leaving for personal reasons led to postponement of pre-trial conference in Duncan

Roy Clark, country singer, ‘Hee Haw’ star, has died

Guitar virtuoso died because of complications from pneumonia at home in Tulsa, Okla. He was 85.

Lack of funding, culture on campus biggest barriers for Indigenous students: report

Report based on nearly 300 responses found lack of support at post-secondary schools a big concern

Tinder sex assault suspect charged; additional alleged victims sought

Vincent Noseworthy of Alberta is accused of aggravated sexual assault, unlawful confinement and more

Most Read