Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology
Faunal Exploitation During the Middle to Late Period Transition on Santa Cruz Island, California
- Author(s): Colten, Roger H
- et al.
This paper presents the analysis of faunal remains from four sites on the west end of Santa Cruz Island, California; a discussion of other Channel Island subsistence data; and a comparison across the three broad ecological zones of the Santa Barbara Channel area: the islands, the mainland coast, and the interior regions. The faunal analysis indicates that the inhabitants of Santa Cruz Island relied almost exclusively on marine resources, with terrestrial mammals and birds contributing relatively little to the animal portion of the diet. These data also demonstrate the increasing importance of fish through time, with marine fish being the most important animal resource in all three ecological zones during the Late Period. New information on ancient sea temperature for the period from approximately A.D. 1150 to 1300 indicates environmental change during that time period. Some of this information was derived from analysis of fish otoliths, a new method that may have broader application in coastal areas. These data support models that invoke environmental change as a factor in prehistoric cultural evolution in the Santa Barbara area, but do not indicate a major decline in marine productivity during the Middle to Late Period transition.