11,500 y of human-clam relationships provide long-term context for intertidal management in the Salish Sea, British Columbia.
ABSTRACT: Historical ecology can provide insights into the long-term and complex relationships between humans and culturally important species and ecosystems, thereby extending baselines for modern management. We bring together paleoecological, archaeological, and modern clam records to explore the relationship between humans and butter clams (Saxidomus gigantea) throughout the Holocene in the northern Salish Sea of British Columbia, Canada. We compare butter clam size and growth patterns from different temporal, environmental, and cultural contexts spanning 11,500 y to present. Butter clam size and growth were restricted in early postglacial times but increased over the next few millennia. During the early-Late Holocene, humans took increasing advantage of robust clam populations and after 3.5 ka, began constructing clam gardens (intertidal rock-walled terraces). Environmental and cultural variables, including coarse substrate, stabilized sea surface temperature, and the presence of a clam garden wall, increased clam growth throughout the Holocene. Measurements of clams collected in active clam gardens and deposited in middens suggest that clam gardens as well as other mariculture activities enhanced clam production despite increased harvesting pressure. Since European contact, decline of traditional management practices and increases in industrial activities are associated with reduced clam size and growth similar to those of the early postglacial clams. Deeper-time baselines that more accurately represent clam population variability and allow us to assess magnitudes of change throughout time as well as the complex interactions among humans and clams are useful for modern marine resource management.
Project description:Maintaining food production while sustaining productive ecosystems is among the central challenges of our time, yet, it has been for millennia. Ancient clam gardens, intertidal rock-walled terraces constructed by humans during the late Holocene, are thought to have improved the growing conditions for clams. We tested this hypothesis by comparing the beach slope, intertidal height, and biomass and density of bivalves at replicate clam garden and non-walled clam beaches in British Columbia, Canada. We also quantified the variation in growth and survival rates of littleneck clams (Leukoma staminea) we experimentally transplanted across these two beach types. We found that clam gardens had significantly shallower slopes than non-walled beaches and greater densities of L. staminea and Saxidomus giganteus, particularly at smaller size classes. Overall, clam gardens contained 4 times as many butter clams and over twice as many littleneck clams relative to non-walled beaches. As predicted, this relationship varied as a function of intertidal height, whereby clam density and biomass tended to be greater in clam gardens compared to non-walled beaches at relatively higher intertidal heights. Transplanted juvenile L. staminea grew 1.7 times faster and smaller size classes were more likely to survive in clam gardens than non-walled beaches, specifically at the top and bottom of beaches. Consequently, we provide strong evidence that ancient clam gardens likely increased clam productivity by altering the slope of soft-sediment beaches, expanding optimal intertidal clam habitat, thereby enhancing growing conditions for clams. These results reveal how ancient shellfish aquaculture practices may have supported food security strategies in the past and provide insight into tools for the conservation, management, and governance of intertidal seascapes today.
Project description:Island Southeast Asia (ISEA) was first colonized by modern humans at least 45,000 years ago, but the extent to which the modern inhabitants trace their ancestry to the first settlers is a matter of debate. It is widely held, in both archaeology and linguistics, that they are largely descended from a second wave of dispersal, proto-Austronesian-speaking agriculturalists who originated in China and spread to Taiwan approximately 5,500 years ago. From there, they are thought to have dispersed into ISEA approximately 4,000 years ago, assimilating the indigenous populations. Here, we demonstrate that mitochondrial DNA diversity in the region is extremely high and includes a large number of indigenous clades. Only a fraction of these date back to the time of first settlement, and the majority appear to mark dispersals in the late-Pleistocene or early-Holocene epoch most likely triggered by postglacial flooding. There are much closer genetic links to Taiwan than to the mainland, but most of these probably predated the mid-Holocene "Out of Taiwan" event as traditionally envisioned. Only approximately 20% at most of modern mitochondrial DNAs in ISEA could be linked to such an event, suggesting that, if an agriculturalist migration did take place, it was demographically minor, at least with regard to the involvement of women.
Project description:Humans are unique, compared with our closest living relatives (chimpanzees) and early fossil hominins, in having an enlarged body size and lower limb joint surfaces in combination with a relatively gracile skeleton (i.e., lower bone mass for our body size). Some analyses have observed that in at least a few anatomical regions modern humans today appear to have relatively low trabecular density, but little is known about how that density varies throughout the human skeleton and across species or how and when the present trabecular patterns emerged over the course of human evolution. Here, we test the hypotheses that (i) recent modern humans have low trabecular density throughout the upper and lower limbs compared with other primate taxa and (ii) the reduction in trabecular density first occurred in early Homo erectus, consistent with the shift toward a modern human locomotor anatomy, or more recently in concert with diaphyseal gracilization in Holocene humans. We used peripheral quantitative CT and microtomography to measure trabecular bone of limb epiphyses (long bone articular ends) in modern humans and chimpanzees and in fossil hominins attributed to Australopithecus africanus, Paranthropus robustus/early Homo from Swartkrans, Homo neanderthalensis, and early Homo sapiens. Results show that only recent modern humans have low trabecular density throughout the limb joints. Extinct hominins, including pre-Holocene Homo sapiens, retain the high levels seen in nonhuman primates. Thus, the low trabecular density of the recent modern human skeleton evolved late in our evolutionary history, potentially resulting from increased sedentism and reliance on technological and cultural innovations.
Project description:Native Americans face disproportionate exposures to environmental pollution through traditional subsistence practices including shellfish harvesting. In this study, the collection of butter clams (Saxidomus giganteus) was spatially and temporally paired with deployment of sediment pore water passive samplers at 20 locations in the Puget Sound region of the Salish Sea in the Pacific Northwest, USA, within adjudicated usual and accustomed tribal fishing grounds and stations. Clams and passive samplers were analyzed for 62 individual PAHs. A linear regression model was constructed to predict PAH concentrations in the edible fraction of butter clams from the freely dissolved fraction (Cfree) in porewater. PAH concentrations can be predicted within a factor of 1.9?±?0.2 on average from the freely dissolved PAH concentration in porewater using the following equation: PAHClam=4.1±0.1×PAHporewater This model offers a simplified, cost effective, and low impact approach to assess contaminant levels in butter clams which are an important traditional food.
Project description:The relationship between the food demand of a clam population (Ruditapes philippinarum (Adams & Reeve 1850)) and the isotopic contributions of potential food sources (phytoplankton, benthic diatoms, and organic matter derived from the sediment surface, seagrass, and seaweeds) to the clam diet were investigated. In particular, we investigated the manner in which dense patches of clams with high secondary productivity are sustained in a coastal lagoon ecosystem (Hichirippu Lagoon) in Hokkaido, Japan. Clam feeding behavior should affect material circulation in this lagoon owing to their high secondary productivity (ca. 130 g C m(-2) yr(-1)). Phytoplankton were initially found to constitute 14-77% of the clam diet, although phytoplankton nitrogen content (1.79-4.48 kmol N) and the food demand of the clam (16.2 kmol N d(-1)) suggest that phytoplankton can constitute only up to 28% of clam dietary demands. However, use of isotopic signatures alone may be misleading. For example, the contribution of microphytobenthos (MPB) were estimated to be 0-68% on the basis of isotopic signatures but was subsequently shown to be 35 ± 13% (mean ± S.D.) and 64 ± 4% (mean ± S.D.) on the basis of phytoplankton biomass and clam food demand respectively, suggesting that MPB are the primary food source for clams. Thus, in the present study, the abundant MPB in the subtidal area appear to be a key food source for clams, suggesting that these MPB may sustain the high secondary production of the clam.
Project description:The use of short-term indicators for understanding patterns and processes of biodiversity loss can mask longer-term faunal responses to human pressures. We use an extensive database of approximately 18,700 mammalian zooarchaeological records for the last 11,700 years across Europe to reconstruct spatio-temporal dynamics of Holocene range change for 15 large-bodied mammal species. European mammals experienced protracted, non-congruent range losses, with significant declines starting in some species approximately 3000 years ago and continuing to the present, and with the timing, duration and magnitude of declines varying individually between species. Some European mammals became globally extinct during the Holocene, whereas others experienced limited or no significant range change. These findings demonstrate the relatively early onset of prehistoric human impacts on postglacial biodiversity, and mirror species-specific patterns of mammalian extinction during the Late Pleistocene. Herbivores experienced significantly greater declines than carnivores, revealing an important historical extinction filter that informs our understanding of relative resilience and vulnerability to human pressures for different taxa. We highlight the importance of large-scale, long-term datasets for understanding complex protracted extinction processes, although the dynamic pattern of progressive faunal depletion of European mammal assemblages across the Holocene challenges easy identification of 'static' past baselines to inform current-day environmental management and restoration.
Project description:Over the last half century, climate change, coral disease, and other anthropogenic disturbances have restructured coral-reef ecosystems on a global scale. The disproportionate loss of once-dominant, reef-building taxa has facilitated relative increases in the abundance of "weedy" or stress-tolerant coral species. Although the recent transformation of coral-reef assemblages is unprecedented on ecological timescales, determining whether modern coral reefs have truly reached a novel ecosystem state requires evaluating the dynamics of reef composition over much longer periods of time. Here, we provide a geologic perspective on the shifting composition of Florida's reefs by reconstructing the millennial-scale spatial and temporal variability in reef assemblages using 59 Holocene reef cores collected throughout the Florida Keys Reef Tract (FKRT). We then compare the relative abundances of reef-building species in the Holocene reef framework to data from contemporary reef surveys to determine how much Florida's modern reef assemblages have diverged from long-term baselines. We show that the composition of Florida's reefs was, until recently, remarkably stable over the last 8000 yr. The same corals that have dominated shallow-water reefs throughout the western Atlantic for hundreds of thousands of years, Acropora palmata, Orbicella spp., and other massive coral taxa, accounted for nearly 90% of Florida's Holocene reef framework. In contrast, the species that now have the highest relative abundances on the FKRT, primarily Porites astreoides and Siderastrea siderea, were rare in the reef framework, suggesting that recent shifts in species assemblages are unprecedented over millennial timescales. Although it may not be possible to return coral reefs to pre-Anthropocene states, our results suggest that coral-reef management focused on the conservation and restoration of the reef-building species of the past, will optimize efforts to preserve coral reefs, and the valuable ecosystem services they provide into the future.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Giant clams and scleractinian (reef-building) corals are keystone species of coral reef ecosystems. The basis of their ecological success is a complex and fine-tuned symbiotic relationship with microbes. While the effect of environmental change on the composition of the coral microbiome has been heavily studied, we know very little about the composition and sensitivity of the microbiome associated with clams. Here, we explore the influence of increasing temperature on the microbial community (bacteria and dinoflagellates from the family Symbiodiniaceae) harbored by giant clams, maintained either in isolation or exposed to other reef species. We created artificial benthic assemblages using two coral species (Pocillopora damicornis and Acropora cytherea) and one giant clam species (Tridacna maxima) and studied the microbial community in the latter using metagenomics. RESULTS:Our results led to three major conclusions. First, the health status of giant clams depended on the composition of the benthic species assemblages. Second, we discovered distinct microbiotypes in the studied T. maxima population, one of which was disproportionately dominated by Vibrionaceae and directly linked to clam mortality. Third, neither the increase in water temperature nor the composition of the benthic assemblage had a significant effect on the composition of the Symbiodiniaceae and bacterial communities of T. maxima. CONCLUSIONS:Altogether, our results suggest that at least three microbiotypes naturally exist in the studied clam populations, regardless of water temperature. These microbiotypes plausibly provide similar functions to the clam host via alternate molecular pathways as well as microbiotype-specific functions. This redundancy in functions among microbiotypes together with their specificities provides hope that giant clam populations can tolerate some levels of environmental variation such as increased temperature. Importantly, the composition of the benthic assemblage could make clams susceptible to infections by Vibrionaceae, especially when water temperature increases. Video abstract.
Project description:Rock-walled archaeological features are notoriously hard to date, largely because of the absence of suitable organic material for radiocarbon dating. This study demonstrates the efficacy of dating clam garden wall construction using optical dating, and uses optical ages to determine how sedimentation rates in the intertidal zone are affected by clam garden construction. Clam gardens are rock-walled, intertidal terraces that were constructed and maintained by coastal First Nation peoples to increase bivalve habitat and productivity. These features are evidence of ancient shellfish mariculture on the Pacific Northwest and, based on radiocarbon dating, date to at least the late Holocene. Optical dating exploits the luminescence signals of quartz or feldspar minerals to determine the last time the minerals were exposed to sunlight (i.e., their burial age), and thus does not require the presence of organic material. Optical ages were obtained from three clam garden sites on northern Quadra Island, British Columbia, and their reliability was assessed by comparing them to radiocarbon ages derived from shells underneath the clam garden walls, as well as below the terrace sediments. Our optical and radiocarbon ages suggest that construction of these clam garden walls commenced between ~1000 and ~1700 years ago, and our optical ages suggest that construction of the walls was likely incremental and increased sedimentation rates in the intertidal zone by up to fourfold. Results of this study show that when site characteristics are not amenable to radiocarbon dating, optical dating may be the only viable geochronometer. Furthermore, dating rock-walled marine management features and their geomorphic impact can lead to significant advances in our understanding of the intimate relationships that Indigenous peoples worldwide developed with their seascapes.
Project description:Bivalves, such as freshwater clams (Corbicula fluminea) and hard clams (Meretrix lusoria), are the most extensive and widely grown shellfish in land-based ponds in Taiwan. However, few studies have examined the contamination of bivalves by quinolone and organophosphorus insecticides. Thus, we adapted an established procedure to analyze 8 quinolones and 12 organophosphorus insecticides using liquid and gas chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Surveys in Taiwan have not noted high residual levels of these chemicals in bivalve tissues. A total of 58 samples of freshwater or hard clams were obtained from Taiwanese aquafarms. We identified 0.03 mg/kg of enrofloxacin in one freshwater clam, 0.024 mg/kg of flumequine in one freshwater clam, 0.02 mg/kg of flumequine in one hard clam, 0.05 mg/kg of chlorpyrifos in one freshwater clam, 0.03 mg/kg of chlorpyrifos in one hard clam, and 0.02 mg/kg of trichlorfon in one hard clam. The results indicated that 5.17% of the samples had quinolone insecticide residues and 5.17% had organophosphorus residues. However, the estimated daily intake (EDI)/acceptable daily intake quotient (ADI) indicated no significant risk and no immediate health risk from the consumption of bivalves. These results provide a reference for the food-safety screening of veterinary drugs and pesticides in aquatic animals. Aquatic products should be frequently screened for residues of prohibited chemicals to safeguard human health.