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1 October 2016 Human Ecology and Coastal Foraging At Fishing Bay, Maryland, USA
Leslie Reeder-Myers, Torben Rick, Darrin Lowery, John Wah, Gregory Henkes
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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 strategies in the Fishing Bay area of Maryland's Eastern Shore, building on our broader bay-wide analyses of oyster fisheries and human-environmental interactions. Archaeological analysis of faunal remains from shell middens dated between AD 500 to 1500, along with analysis of locally collected modern oysters, help reconstruct Fishing Bay's evolution during the late Holocene, and document shellfish harvest strategies and predation pressure. These data suggest a stable and sustainable prehistoric oyster fishery in Fishing Bay, likely due to: 1) seasonal harvest and local consumption; 2) intertidal harvest that allowed replenishment from subtidal populations; and 3) relatively low human population densities. When placed in the context of our broader bay-wide analysis, these data provide implications for managing the present day oyster fishery, lending support to increasing no-take zones and expanding oyster sanctuaries that can be rotated with areas actively being fished.

Leslie Reeder-Myers, Torben Rick, Darrin Lowery, John Wah, and Gregory Henkes "Human Ecology and Coastal Foraging At Fishing Bay, Maryland, USA," Journal of Ethnobiology 36(3), 595-616, (1 October 2016).
Published: 1 October 2016
Chesapeake Bay
coastal archaeology
eastern oyster
historical ecology
shell midden analysis
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