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Human Impacts on Ancient Marine Ecosystems

A Global Perspective

Torben C. Rick

Publication Year: 2008

Archaeological data now show that relatively intense human adaptations to coastal environments developed much earlier than once believed—more than 125,000 years ago. With our oceans and marine fisheries currently in a state of crisis, coastal archaeological sites contain a wealth of data that can shed light on the history of human exploitation of marine ecosystems. In eleven case studies from the Americas, Pacific Islands, North Sea, Caribbean, Europe, and Africa, leading researchers working in coastal areas around the world cover diverse marine ecosystems, reaching into deep history to discover how humans interacted with and impacted these aquatic environments and shedding new light on our understanding of contemporary environmental problems.

Published by: University of California Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-4

Contents

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pp. v-vi

Contributors

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface

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pp. ix-x

Although their role has been underappreciated until recently, archaeological records from coastlines around the world contain a wealth of information on the history of marine fisheries, human impacts on marine ecosystems, and...

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1. Archaeology, Marine Ecology, and Human Impacts on Marine Environments

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pp. 1-19

Covering more than 70 percent of our blue planet, the oceans dominate the earth in a variety of ways. With an average depth of almost 4 km, they provide over 99 percent of the habitable space for life on earth (Woodard 2000:31). As human populations...

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2. Short and Sometimes Sharp: HUMAN IMPACTS ON MARINE RESOURCES IN THE ARCHAEOLOGY AND HISTORY OF SOUTH POLYNESIA

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pp. 21-42

THE POLYNESIAN ISLANDS LIE in the central Pacific Ocean where sheer distance from continental margins, and prevailing easterly winds and currents severely restricted biotic diversity in native terrestrial taxa, as...

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3. Aleut Hunters, Sea Otters, and Sea Cows: THREE THOUSAND YEARS OF INTERACTIONS IN THE WESTERN ALEUTIAN ISLANDS, ALASKA

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pp. 43-75

American archaeologists have long considered environmental reconstruction integral to interpreting ancient cultures. Interdisciplinary studies involving geologists, soil scientists, palynologists, faunal analysts, and tree ring specialists all contribute...

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4. Historical Ecology and Human Impacts on Coastal Ecosystems of the Santa Barbara Channel Region, California

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pp. 77-101

IN RECENT YEARS, a number of researchers have emphasized the importance of archaeological and historical records for elucidating contemporary environmental issues and crises (e.g., Diamond 2005; Grayson 2001; Jackson et al. 2001; Kirch 1997; Kirch and Hunt 1997;...

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5. Long-Term Effects of Human Predation on Marine Ecosystems in Guerrero, Mexico

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pp. 103-124

Coastal and marine ecosystems have long played a central role in the economies of people inhabiting Mexico, where today they are of paramount importance in the modern economy. Twenty-nine percent of the country’s 107 million people live in coastal settings, with...

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6. Ancient Fisheries and Marine Ecology of Coastal Peru

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pp. 125-145

Recent research, exemplified by chapters in this volume, documents the profound impact of people on marine fisheries and ecology in many areas (e.g., Lauwerier and Plug 2004; Pauly 1995; Pauly and Christensen 1995; Pauly et al. 1998, 2000). Although we do...

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7. Human Impacts on Marine Environments in the West Indies during the Middle to Late Holocene

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pp. 147-164

The recent collapse of fisheries around the world (Jackson et al. 2001) from the overharvesting of resources, expanding coastal development, and dumping of various industrial and domestic waste products, has confirmed what many researchers in both...

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8. Possible Prehistoric Fishing Effects on Coastal Marine Food Webs in the Gulf of Maine

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pp. 165-185

THE GULF OF MAINE is one of the world’s most productive marine ecosystems. Its coastal codfish stocks attracted European colonists, including the Pilgrims at Plymouth, Massachusetts, on the shores of the then appropriately named Cape Cod. Today, however,...

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9. Codfish and Kings, Seals and Subsistence: NORSE MARINE RESOURCE USE IN THE NORTH ATLANTIC

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pp. 187-214

In the past two decades, the archaeology and paleoecology of the North Atlantic have been transformed by a series of major international, interdisciplinary projects (Barrett et al. 2000; Church et al. 2005; Dockrill et al. 2005; Edwards et al. 2004; McGovern 2001;...

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10. Historical Ecology of the North Sea Basin: AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE AND SOME PROBLEMS OF METHODOLOGY

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pp. 215-242

The north sea basin is one of the most fertile marine environments in Europe. Its relatively shallow seabed, cool-temperate climate, and winter storms ensure rapid recycling of nutrients, while the presence of land masses on three sides and large rivers...

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11. Twenty Thousand Years of Fishing in the Strait: ARCHAEOLOGICAL FISH AND SHELLFISH ASSEMBLAGES FROM SOUTHERN IBERIA

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pp. 243-277

Along the shores of southern Iberia, extensive fishing enterprises developed during classical times. Their testimonies are reflected in the many fish factories that dot the present-day coastline and in the thousands of southern Iberian amphorae that distributed...

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12. Human Impact on Precolonial West Coast Marine Environments of South Africa

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pp. 279-296

WITH VERY EXTENSIVE, diverse, and productive coastlines, it is no surprise that South Africa offers a superb opportunity to understand how marine ecosystems function, and the effects of people on these environments. This prospect is heightened by the realization of...

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13. Archaeology, Historical Ecology,and the Future of Ocean Ecosystems

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pp. 297-308

Ravaged by overfishing, pollution, eutrophication, and numerous other processes, fisheries and marine ecosystems around the world are in a state of crisis. Human populations are also growing at a much higher rate along the coast than interior areas,...

Index

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pp. 309-319

Production Notes

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pp. 321-332


E-ISBN-13: 9780520934290
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520253438

Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 2008

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Coastal archaeology -- Case studies.
  • Underwater archaeology -- Case studies.
  • Prehistoric peoples.
  • Fishing, Prehistoric.
  • Nature -- Effect of human beings on.
  • Marine mammals -- Effect of human beings on.
  • Marine mammal remains (Archaeology).
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