Margherita Zona


Twitter: @archeoMarghe



Previous Education

2016 – MA Honours in Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Aberdeen (2:1)

2017 – MSc in Zooarchaeology, University of York (Distinction)


Thesis Title

Revealing the human exploitation of salmonids (Oncorhynchus spp.) on the Pacific coast of North America: A morphometric and biomolecular approach to reconstructing precontact subsistence strategies and human responses to climate change.



Prof Keith Dobney, Dr Kimberly Plomp, Dr Ardern Hulme-Beaman (University of Liverpool); Dr Camilla Speller (University of British Columbia)


Research Summary

Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus sp.) are a key economic and subsistence resources for both contemporary and past indigenous peoples along the Pacific coast of North America. This project aims to investigate the past ecology, abundance and distribution of the seven Pacific salmonid species from pre-contact sites along the Pacific coast of North America. Key to this is the accurate identification of these morphologically similar species from archaeological sites in order to reconstruct in detail (and for the first time) past species distributions and changing subsistence strategies. While ancient DNA analyses have successfully identified distinct salmonid species, these methods are destructive and often cost-prohibitive. Geometric morphometrics (GMM) represents a cheaper and non-destructive alternative for the identification of archaeological Oncorhynchus species and has proven successful in capturing subtle biological variations of many other closely related taxa. Preliminary results using modern wild specimens and verified by DNA analysis and ZooMS (collagen fingerprinting), demonstrated that GMM is effective in identifying certain species of Oncorhynchus with a high level of confidence. The final results of this research will aid in the refinement of changing human subsistence strategies surrounding this keystone species, as well as provide a deep-time perspective on both the pre-industrial population baselines and native salmonid ranges for modern conservation policy and climate change studies.


Research Interests

My broader research interests include bioarchaeology, historical ecology,  human-animal relations through time and the applications of zooarchaeology to modern faunal conservation and climate change studies.

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