The kelp highway hypothesis: Marine ecology, the coastal migration theory, and the peopling of the Americas

Primary tabs

Erlandson, J. M., Graham, M. H., Bourque, B. J., Corbett, D., Estes, J. A., & Steneck, R. S. (2007). The kelp highway hypothesis: Marine ecology, the coastal migration theory, and the peopling of the Americas. Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology, 2(2), 161-174. doi:10.1080/15564890701628612
Metadata
TitleThe kelp highway hypothesis: Marine ecology, the coastal migration theory, and the peopling of the Americas
AuthorsJ. Erlandson, M. Graham, B. Bourque, D. Corbett, J. Estes, R. Steneck
AbstractIn this article, a collaborative effort between archaeologists and marine ecologists, we discuss the role kelp forest ecosystems may have played in facilitating the movement of maritime peoples from Asia to the Americas near the end of the Pleistocene. Growing in cool nearshore waters along rocky coastlines, kelp forests offer some of the most productive habitats on earth, with high primary productivity, magnified secondary productivity, and three-dimensional habitat supporting a diverse array of marine organisms. Today, extensive kelp forests are found around the North Pacific from Japan to Baja California. After a break in the tropicswhere nearshore mangrove forests and coral reefs are highly productivekelp forests are also found along the Andean Coast of South America. These Pacific Rim kelp forests support or shelter a wealth of shellfish, fish, marine mammals, seabirds, and seaweeds, resources heavily used historically by coastal peoples. By about 16,000 years ago, the North Pacific Coast offered a linear migration route, essentially unobstructed and entirely at sea level, from northeast Asia into the Americas. Recent reconstructions suggest that rising sea levels early in the postglacial created a highly convoluted and island-rich coast along Beringia's southern shore, conditions highly favorable to maritime hunter-gatherers. Along with the terrestrial resources available in adjacent landscapes, kelp forests and other nearshore habitats sheltered similar suites of food resources that required minimal adaptive adjustments for migrating coastal peoples. With reduced wave energy, holdfasts for boats, and productive fishing, these linear kelp forest ecosystems may have provided a kind of kelp highway for early maritime peoples colonizing the New World.
JournalJournal of Island and Coastal Archaeology
Date2007
Volume2
Issue2
Start page161
End page174
ISSN15564894
SubjectsBeringia, forest ecosystem, human settlement, kelp forest, migration, movement, nearshore environment, Pleistocene, primary production, rocky shore, sea level change, Asia, Baja California [(PNN) Mexico], Eurasia, Far East, Japan, Mexico [North America], North America, Pacific Coast [South America], Pacific Ocean, Pacific Ocean (North), Pacific Rim, South America, Anthozoa, Mammalia, Archaeology, Coastal zones, Kelp, Marine ecosystems
NoteCited By (since 1996):22, Seaweeds

Bookmark

Bookmarks: