groupers, mediterranean, historical ecology, multidisciplinarity
University of York, Department of Archaeology
Dr. David Orton

Main partners: University of York, University of Groningen, University of Copenhagen, University of Bologna, CSIC, University of Oslo, University of Cambridge.

ECOSEAS Lab is a participating partner where the secondment of the PhD student working on the ESR 13 project (Foraging ecology and catch size in Mediterranean groupers before and after the rise of coastal urbanism, c. 2500 BC – AD 500) will take place.

This project is funded by the European Union's EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 under Grant Agreement No. 813383

Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA), Innovative Training Networks (ITN) H2020-MSCA-ITN-2018

Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA)

Innovative Training Networks (ITN)


April 1st, 2019 - March 31st, 2023

SeaChanges is an international doctoral training network spanning archaeology and marine biology, which supports 15 fully-funded PhD projects across seven institutions in six countries. The network takes a long-term perspective on human exploitation of marine vertebrates, with projects covering species from herring to sperm whale, timescales from decades to millennia, and all of Europe's seas and beyond.

ESR 13 (RUG): Foraging ecology and catch size in Mediterranean groupers before and after the rise of coastal urbanism, c. 2500 BC – AD 500

Groupers (Epinephelus) are a keystone taxon for the rocky shorelines of the Mediterranean Sea. As such, they are crucial to conservation efforts, especially in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Mediterranean Groupers are under increasing anthropogenic pressure, especially caused by overfishing and habitat loss. Assessment and management strategies, however, typically lack the long-term ecological perspective required critically to assess ecological baselines. Groupers were fished in the Mediterranean throughout the Holocene. Their relative abundance in the archaeological record increases at times of increased urbanisation and elite trade, for example during the Late Bronze Age (1600-1200 BC), and systematic exploitation takes place from the Greek colony period (750 BC) onwards. Their archaeological record has unfulfilled potential to define variation in groupers’ status under distinct environmental conditions and exploitation intensity through time. Archaeological grouper bones can provide catch intensity, catch size, and trophic level data from zooarchaeological and nitrogen and carbon isotopic analyses.

ESR 13 will employ ZooMS, metrics, and stable isotope analyses of recent and archaeological groupers to reveal the long-term ecological history of groupers in the eastern Mediterranean, from prehistoric times to the Late Roman Period in comparison with modern data from MPAs. Training in rocky reef ecology will be provided via secondment at ECOSEAS Lab (Univ. Cote d'Azur);; ZooMS and stable isotopes via secondment at York.

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