Applying Indigenous knowledge and genetic data to evaluate clam garden restoration potential in northern California

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Project Number
Project Date Range
Funding Agency
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Focus Area(s)
Healthy Coastal Ecosystems

This project will document how the California native Pacific littleneck clam (Leukoma staminea) responds to ocean acidification, and evaluate the use of Indigenous shellfish management techniques to promote healthy clam populations in northern California today and into the future. This research will investigate how adding pulverized shells to the substrate affects both the genetic and environmental mechanisms involved in shell growth of an ecologically and culturally important infaunal clam.

The team will identify the shell size, shape and small structural changes that may be produced due to exposure to ocean acidification, and determine if adding shell material to clams’ microhabitat lessens any negative effects on growth. Further, they will also test the effects of acidic conditions on the expression of genes regulating the development of shell formation in juvenile Pacific littleneck clams, and determine if adding pulverized shells to clams’ microhabitat mitigates alterations in gene expression.

Lastly, the group will test if adding shell hash to local field sediments in the Tomales Bay, CA region increases the alkalinity of pore waters (i.e., the water between sediment grains), thus buffering against ocean acidification. In all, this research aims to incorporate traditional practices with empirical data, with specific, practical implications for local California Native peoples and coastal resource managers. 

This research partners local academic institutions, Tribal citizens, and land and resource managers to produce data that will inform the successful conservation, restoration, and adaptive management of northern-central California intertidal ecosystems, and ensure their long-term survival.

2022 California Sea Grant Graduate Research Fellowship Webinar Presentation - June 11, 2024


Principal Investigators
Hannah Kempf
University of California, Davis
Co-principal Investigators
David Gold
University of California, Davis

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