Torben Rick

Torben Rick
Smithsonian Institution · Department of Anthropology

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179
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Introduction
Skills and Expertise

Publications

Publications (179)
Article
Full-text available
Historical ecology has revolutionized our understanding of fisheries and cultural landscapes, demonstrating the value of historical data for evaluating the past, present, and future of Earth’s ecosystems. Despite several important studies, Indigenous fisheries generally receive less attention from scholars and managers than the 17th–20th century ca...
Article
The places in which people live and spend time are steeped in history, memory, and meaning from the intersection of daily life, environmental interactions, cultural practices, and ritual. Geologic features, plants, animals, and ecosystems merge with these cultural histories, forming critical parts of the landscape and areas of “high cultural salien...
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Archaeologists have long emphasized the importance of large-scale excavations and multi-year or even decades-long projects at a single site or site complex. Here, we highlight archaeological field strategies, termed coring, profiling, and trenching (CPT), that rely on relatively small-scale excavations or the collection of new samples from intact d...
Article
Sturgeon (Acipenser spp.) have long been an important resource for people living in several parts of the world, including the Northwest Coast of North America. Two sturgeon species occur on the Oregon Coast, white (A. transmontanus) and green (A. medirostris), but morphological similarities between the species have generally prevented osteological...
Article
The abundance of marine mollusks found in Pre-Columbian archaeological sites in the Caribbean has made them enticing sample types for radiocarbon dating. Unfortunately, a paucity of local marine reservoir corrections (ΔR) for most of the region limits building chronologies using marine-based carbonates. Here we present a suite of 33 new ΔR values f...
Article
Genetic analyses are an important contribution to wildlife reintroductions, particularly in the modern context of extirpations and ecological destruction. To address the complex historical ecology of the sea otter ( Enhydra lutris ) and its failed 1970s reintroduction to coastal Oregon, we compared mitochondrial genomes of pre-extirpation Oregon se...
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This article emerged as the human species collectively have been experiencing the worst global pandemic in a century. With a long view of the ecological, economic, social, and political factors that promote the emergence and spread of infectious disease , archaeologists are well positioned to examine the antecedents of the present crisis. In this a...
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During the last 10 years, we have learned a great deal about the potential for a coastal peopling of the Americas and the importance of marine resources in early economies. Despite research at a growing number of terminal Pleistocene archaeological sites on the Pacific Coast of the Americas, however, important questions remain about the lifeways of...
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An accurate understanding of biodiversity of the past is critical for contextualizing biodiversity patterns and trends in the present. Emerging techniques are refining our ability to decipher otherwise cryptic human-mediated species translocations across the Quaternary, yet these techniques are often used in isolation, rather than part of an interd...
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The shells of marine mollusks represent promising metagenomic archives of the past, adding to bones, teeth, hairs, and environmental samples most commonly examined in ancient DNA research. Seminal work has established that DNA recovery from marine mollusk shells depends on their microstructure, preservation and disease state, and that authentic anc...
Preprint
Abstract. The shells of marine mollusks represent promising metagenomic archives of the past, adding to bones, teeth, hairs, and environmental samples most commonly examined in ancient DNA research. Seminal work has established that DNA recovery from marine mollusks depends on their shell microstructure, preservation and disease state, and that aut...
Chapter
The productive woodlands, estuaries, and coastlines of the Middle Atlantic region of North America have been home to Native Americans from the Paleoindian period to the modern day. Inhabitants of this region adapted to broad environmental changes, including the emergence of Chesapeake Bay when rising seas drowned the Susquehanna River valley around...
Chapter
From the icy shores of Labrador to the warm mangroves of the Florida Keys, North America’s Atlantic Coast was a magnet for human subsistence and settlement for millennia. North America’s Atlantic Coast is a land of diversity united by rich coastal and terrestrial ecosystems that were home to a wide variety of Native American societies and distinct...
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Forty years ago, Knut Fladmark (1979) argued that the Pacific Coast offered a viable alternative to the ice-free corridor model for the initial peopling of the Americas—one of the first to support a “coastal migration theory” that remained marginal for decades. Today, the pre-Clovis occupation at the Monte Verde site is widely accepted, several oth...
Article
Kayak surveys in estuarine environments: addressing sea-level rise and climate change - Volume 93 Issue 370 - Leslie A. Reeder-Myers, Torben C. Rick
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Archaeobotanical remains recovered from a large ∼8000-year-old-shell midden (CA-SRI-666) on Santa Rosa Island provide the first ancient plant data from this large island, shedding light on ancient patterns of plant use, subsistence, and sedentism. Faunal data from shell midden samples retrieved from three site loci contain evidence for harvesting o...
Chapter
Spanish arrival to Alta and Baja California in AD 1542 marked the beginning of widespread ecological changes for California Island ecosystems. Over several centuries, Native peoples were removed to mainland towns and missions, intensive commercial fisheries and ranching operations developed, and numerous exotic plants and animals were introduced. T...
Article
In spite of their potential significance to early human migrants and maritime foragers, small islands often are overlooked in archaeological research projects in favor of mainland coastal and large island counterparts. One excellent example of this is found off the northwestern coast of Baja California, México. Despite the wealth of data from islan...
Chapter
Worldwide, prehistoric hunter-gatherers and horticulturalists translocated a variety of animals and plants to islands. Translocations enhanced island ecosystems, introducing animals and plants used for food or raw materials. We review recent zooarchaeology, genetics, and stable isotope data to evaluate the evidence for ancient translocations to the...
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The submersion of Late Pleistocene shorelines and poor organic preservation at many early archaeological sites obscure the earliest effects of humans on coastal resources in the Americas. We used collagen fingerprinting to identify bone fragments from middens at four California Channel Island sites that are among the oldest coastal sites in the Ame...
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Biological invasions are one of the great threats to Earth’s ecosystems and biodiversity in the Anthropocene. However, species introductions and invasions extend deep into the human past, with the translocation of both wild and domestic species around the world. Here, we review the human translocation of wild plants and animals to the world’s islan...
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Santa Cruz Island contains a remarkable array of cultural and biological resources and a rich tradition of research across the social and biological sciences and humanities. Given dramatic changes in climate forecast in the coming decades of the Anthropocene, however, many questions remain about the sustainability and future of island ecosystems an...
Article
Rats and mice are among the most successful mammals on earth, with some of these species thriving in and around human settlements or areas disturbed by human activities. Here, we present morphological, taphonomic, and chronological data on two mice (Peromyscus nesodytes [extinct] and P. maniculatus [extant]) from a trans-Holocene sequence at Daisy...
Article
Historical ecology provides information needed to understand contemporary conditions and make science-based resource management decisions. Gaps in historical records, however, can limit inquiries and inference. Unfortunately, the patchiness of data that poses challenges for today’s historical ecologist may be similarly problematic for those in the...
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In a controversial study published in Nature, Holen et al. (2017) claim that hominins fractured mastodon bones and teeth with stone cobbles in California ∼130,000 years ago. Their claim implies a human colonization of the New World more than 110,000 years earlier than the oldest widely accepted archaeological sites in the Americas. It is also at od...
Article
Chesapeake Bay is home to highly productive marine ecosystems that were a key part of Native American subsistence for millennia. Despite a number of archaeological projects focused on Chesapeake Bay prehistory, key questions remain about the nature of human use of the estuary through time and across space. Recent work at 7 shell middens on the Rhod...
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Crassostrea virginica is one of the most common estuarine bivalves in the United States’ east coast and is frequently found in archaeological sites and sub-fossil deposits. Although there have been several sclerochronological studies on stable carbon and oxygen isotopes in the shells of this species, less is known about δ15N values within their she...
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The intensive commercial exploitation of California sheephead (Semicossyphus pulcher) has become a complex, multimillion-dollar industry. The fishery is of concern because of high harvest levels and potential indirect impacts of sheephead removals on the structure and function of kelp forest ecosystems. California sheephead are proto-gynous hermaph...
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Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States and is famous for its once extensive and now severely degraded eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) populations, along with a number of other important fisheries including crabs, rockfish, and menhaden. Here we explore the historical ecology of Native American subsistence and land use str...
Article
Understanding how human activities have influenced the foraging ecology of wildlife is important as our planet faces ongoing and impending habitat and climatic change. We review the canine surrogacy approach (CSA)—a tool for comparing human, dog, and other canid diets in the past—and apply CSA to investigate possible ancient human resource provisio...
Article
Estuaries around the world are in a state of decline following decades or more of overfishing, pollution, and climate change. Oysters (Ostreidae), ecosystem engineers in many estuaries, influence water quality, construct habitat, and provide food for humans and wildlife. In North America's Chesapeake Bay, once-thriving eastern oyster (Crassostrea v...
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Investigations of human impacts on intertidal shellfish communities has become an important area of inquiry for archaeologists working in coastal regions around the globe. A recent study by Thakar et al. (2015) addresses this research agenda, but fails to recognize and accurately characterize earlier studies designed to investigate regional and dee...
Article
The evolutionary mechanisms generating the tremendous biodiversity of islands have long fascinated evolutionary biologists. Genetic drift and divergent selection are predicted to be strong on islands and both could drive population divergence and speciation. Alternatively, strong genetic drift may preclude adaptation. We conducted a genomic analysi...
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Evidence for aboriginal whale hunting, long thought to be a practice limited to Northwest Coast tribes in northern Washington and British Columbia’s Vancouver Island, was previously reported at the Par-Tee site on the Oregon coast between about cal AD 620 and 990. An age estimate for a humpback whale phalanx with an embedded elk bone harpoon point...
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California's Northern Channel Islands have long been an epicenter of specialized fishing economies dating from 13,000 yr ago to the mid-19th century. With thousands of well-preserved shell middens, some dominated by single shellfish species and little to no material culture, it can be difficult to distinguish between specialized prehistoric and his...
Article
There is growing consensus that we have entered the Anthropocene, a geologic epoch characterized by human domination of the ecosystems of the Earth. With the future uncertain, we are faced with understanding how global biodiversity will respond to anthropogenic perturbations. The archaeological record provides perspective on human-environment relat...
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Identifying appropriate ecological conditions for population restoration is important for endangered species such as black abalone (Haliotis cracherodii) in California, but limited information exists regarding restoration locations.Using a combination of ancient and historical archaeological data and modern commercial fishing records, four optimal...
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Examining the ecology and archaeology of black turban snails (Chlorostoma [Tegula] funebralis), found along North America's Pacific Coast from British Columbia to Baja California, we present evidence for 12,000 years of human predation in Northern Channel Island shell middens. Often viewed as evidence for Late Holocene economic intensification alon...
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In the first issue of the Journal of Island & Coastal Archaeology published 10 years ago, Erlandson and Fitzpatrick (2006) outlined eight topics which demonstrated why island and coastal archaeology were relevant to understanding a host of issues related to human cultural and biological evolution across time and space. Here, we evaluate recent tren...
Article
Blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus), an important commercial and ecological species in the eastern United States, are a key part of Chesapeake Bay culture, tourism, and fisheries. Blue crab remains are rare in Middle Atlantic North American archaeological sites, however, leading to speculation that Native Americans did not eat crabs, that taphonomic p...
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Island endemics are typically differentiated from their mainland progenitors in behavior, morphology, and genetics, often resulting from long-term evolutionary change. To examine mechanisms for the origins of island endemism, we present a phylogeographic analysis of whole mitochondrial genomes from the endangered island fox (Urocyon littoralis), en...
Article
Sea-level rise during the late Pleistocene and early Holocene inundated nearshore areas in many parts of the world, producing drastic changes in local ecosystems and obscuring significant portions of the archeological record. Although global forces are at play, the effects of sea-level rise are highly localized due to variability in glacial isostat...
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We describe three Late Paleocoastal shell middens recently identified on Santa Cruz Island, dated between ∼8800 and 8450 cal yr BP. Exposed and threatened by coastal erosion, the sites are located along the front edge of a raised marine terrace, buried beneath 2–3 m of alluvium. Situated along a broad sandy beach today, the sites were situated ∼600...
Chapter
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In this chapter, Jon M. Erlandson, Todd J. Braje, Robert L. DeLong, and Torben C. Rick examine the process of novel community reassembly following historical overharvest, through an examination of the historical ecology of pinnipeds along North America's Pacific Coast. We compare changes in the biogeography of ancient versus modern pinniped populat...
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Historical ecology is becoming an important focus in conservation biology and offers a promising tool to help guide ecosystem management. Here, we integrate data from multiple disciplines to illuminate the past, present, and future of biodiversity on California's Channel Islands, an archipelago that has undergone a wide range of land-use and ecolog...
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The Chumash village of Qshiwqshiw, located on eastern Santa Rosa Island, is described in ethnographic sources as one of the largest Chumash villages on the northern Channel Islands, with 4 chiefs and 119 baptisms according to mission records. The village is thought to correlate with 2 archaeological sites (CA-SRI-85 and CA-SRI-87) that contain larg...
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To evaluate coastal settlement and land use strategies among maritime hunter-gatherers, we analyzed oxygen isotope (δ18O) data from 131 marine carbonate samples from 21 California mussel (Mytilus californianus) shells obtained from a large ∼8,200-year-old shell midden (CA-SRI-666) on California’s Santa Rosa Island. Seasonal distributions of the iso...
Article
Human-environmental relationships have long been of interest to a variety of scientists, including ecologists, biologists, anthropologists, and many others. In anthropology, this interest was especially prevalent among cultural ecologists of the 1970s and earlier, who tended to explain culture as the result of techno-environmental constraints. More...
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The northern Pacific Coast is an important area for understanding human colonization of the Americas, but Late Pleistocene coastal sites are rare and interglacial sea level rise has inundated the continental shelf and the primary areas where Paleocoastal archaeological sites are likely to occur. Here we outline a terrestrial archaeological survey p...