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

‘Listen to your body:’ Saanich woman fights to have breast implants removed

Woman struggles to find doctor to remove Allergan textured implants, recently linked to rare cancer

Police find shoes, backpack of the man found dead in Saanich

Officers credit public’s help, continue to seek information

Victoria Police seize drugs, replica firearms and $50,000 in cash after searching Victoria home

A property in the 600-block of Manchester Avenue is focus of investigation

Saanich approves new eight- and 11-storey residence buildings for UVic

Residents also supported the environmentally friendly residences

Federal government funds 60 ‘micro-loft’ rental units set to open on Fort Street

The Sawyer Block at 840 Fort St. will house affordable units and a small amount of retail space

VIDEO: Come along for the ride on Tour de Victoria

Reporter captures video footage of his Tour de Victoria ride

POLL: Should there be a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers?

We’ve all heard them, and most likely cursed them under our breath.… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of Aug. 23

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

Bodies of two missing Surrey men found near Ashcroft

Ryan Provencher and Richard Scurr have been missing since July 17

Pile of wood mulch ‘spontaneously combusts’ at Vancouver Island industrial site

Business owner thanks fire department for quick response

Five hedgehogs quickly adopted after being left at BC SPCA

Lucky new owners picked up their pets from Maple Ridge branch on Aug. 20

B.C. cricket players get interrupted by racist remark

Community has had protocols in place for years to respond to prejudice

Groovy B.C. wedding a throwback to Woodstock ‘69

Couple hosts themed wedding 50 years after legendary festival

Most Read