Fishing Down a Prehistoric Caribbean Marine Food Web: Isotopic Evidence From Punta Candelero, Puerto Rico

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

In recent years, a debate about the degree to which prehistoric fishing practices may, or may not, have adversely impacted local fish communities has re-emerged in the Caribbean archaeological and fisheries literature. Through carbon and nitrogen stable isotope analyses of radiocarbon dated human skeletal remains from southeastern Puerto Rico, the present work identifies a significant (one to two trophic level) decline in the mean trophic level of human-consumed fish over a period of six centuries (fifth-eleventh centuries AD). While the extrapolation of such results to a pan-Caribbean scale would be foolhardy, this work provides complementary evidence that, at least on a local scale, fishing pressure brought to bear by prehistoric peoples may have had the capability to "fish down" marine food webs in a manner akin to that seen in many global fisheries in more recent years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)228-254
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Island and Coastal Archaeology
Volume8
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2013

Keywords

  • Puerto Rico
  • archaeology
  • fishing down
  • stable isotope analysis
  • trophic shift

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Archaeology
  • Ecology
  • History
  • Archaeology

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