An article co-authored by Associate Dean of Faculty and Professor of Anthropology Nathan Goodale was recently published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.
“Divergent population dynamics in the middle to late Holocene lower Fraser valley and mid-Fraser canyon, British Columbia” presents the results of a study that modeled demographic ecology to offer insights into population stability and instability in village societies. The research ties to Goodale’s long-term research in the Pacific Northwest on paleodemographic modeling and the origins of indigenous villages.
In the study, Goodale and an international group of researchers explored radiocarbon records of middle to late Holocene groups residing in British Columbia’s mid-Fraser Canyon and lower Fraser Valley. Their analysis indicates that lower Fraser populations (with high subsistence resource diversity closer to the Pacific Coast) were highly stable after 4,000 years ago.
In contrast, they found that mid-Fraser populations — with lower subsistence resource diversity further inland — were very low 2,000 to 4,000 cal. BP (calendar years before the present), peaked at high densities by approximately 1200–1300 cal. BP, and were again low until the final centuries before first contacts with Europeans.
The authors argue that climate-related impacts on anadromous fish resources likely affected mid-Fraser populations to a more substantial degree than those of the lower Fraser.