Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Thomas J. Pluckhahn, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Nancy Marie White, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Diane Wallman, Ph.D.


Shell Midden, Zooarchaeology, Agency, Resource Management, Historical Ecology, Florida Archaeology


The impact of human activity on ecosystems is an issue at the forefront of global concern. Marine ecosystems are a particular concern, given their importance for human sustenance. Through the removal of species that are highly susceptible to the effects of overfishing, global fisheries have been driven to near collapse in recent decades. The long-term effects of such practices has resulted in declines in mean trophic level of aggregate fish catches over time, as well as decreasing diversity of species available for regular harvest (Jackson et al. 2001; Pauly et al. 1998). These supposedly “modern” problems have been recently identified in archaeological contexts, and attest to the extent of anthropogenic ecosystem alteration that has occurred since humans first began intensively exploiting marine ecosystems (Erlandson and Rick 2010; Quitmyer and Reitz 2006; Reitz 2004; Wing and Wing 2001). Here, I evaluate the degree of change in mean trophic level, diversity, and equitability of midden deposits at Crystal River and Roberts Island, two roughly contemporaneous Middle-to-Late Woodland Period (AD 1to 1000) mound complexes located on the west-central Florida Gulf Coast. This research identifies the extent to which humans altered the characteristics of the estuarine ecosystem surrounding the two sites, promotes alternative theoretical perspectives on past human-environment interactions, and provides modern ecosystems management agencies with a temporally-expansive data set to aid in future ecosystem conservation efforts.