Fishing from past to present: continuity and resilience of red abalone fisheries on the Channel Islands, California.

Humboldt State University, Department of Anthropology, Arcata, California 95521, USA.
Ecological Applications (Impact Factor: 4.13). 07/2009; 19(4):906-19. DOI: 10.1890/08-0135.1
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Archaeological data from coastal shell middens provide a window into the structure of ancient marine ecosystems and the nature of human impacts on fisheries that often span millennia. For decades Channel Island archaeologists have studied Middle Holocene shell middens visually dominated by large and often whole shells of the red abalone (Haliotis rufescens). Here we use modern ecological data, historical accounts, commercial red abalone catch records, and zooarchaeological data to examine long-term spatial and temporal variation in the productivity of red abalone fisheries on the Northern Channel Islands, California (USA). Historical patterns of abundance, in which red abalone densities increase from east to west through the islands, extend deep into the Holocene. The correlation of historical and archaeological data argue for long-term spatial continuity in productive red abalone fisheries and a resilience of abalone populations despite dramatic ecological changes and intensive human predation spanning more than 8000 years. Archaeological, historical, and ecological data suggest that California kelp forests and red abalone populations are structured by a complex combination of top-down and bottom-up controls.

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