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Durham University

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Publication details for Dr Darren R. Gröcke

Szpak, P., Orchard, T.J. & Gröcke, D.R. (2009). A Late Holocene vertebrate food web from southern Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia). Journal of Archaeological Science 36(12): 2734-2741.

Author(s) from Durham


This study presents isotopic data (δ¹³C and δ¹⁵N from bone collagen) for 104 samples representing 29 vertebrate taxa from late pre-contact through to contact era (ca. 2000 – 100 BP) Haida Gwaii (British Columbia, Canada) from a wide variety of mostly marine organisms. The results demonstrate the considerable isotopic variability that characterizes potential prey items in coastal contexts and underscores the need for baseline faunal data to interpret human subsistence practices. Based on these data, a detailed marine food web was constructed, which provides insight into local ecological conditions. We present a simple method for quantifying the trophic level of ancient fauna using δ¹⁵N of bone collagen. Finally, we discuss the implications of this study for the reconstruction of human diet.