Tribal use of herring over the millenia 

Shifting Baselines in Puget Sound: Population Abundance of Pacific Herring and its Use by Native Americans over the Millennia

This project brings together social and natural scientists to provide a synergistic assessment of preindustrial herring diversity and use.

Principal Investigator

Lorenz Hauser, University of Washington, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences

Co-Principal Investigators

Robert Kopperl, Northwest Archaeological Associates

Dana Lepofsky, Simon Fraser University

Dongya Yang, Simon Fraser University


Herring are a foundation of the Puget Sound food web. They have been a cultural touchstone for centuries for local tribes, for whom current declines in the herring population represent a significant socioeconomic and cultural loss. This project will combine social and natural science, assessing preindustrial herring diversity and use through a synthesis of traditional knowledge, zooarchaeology, and genetic research. Its potential benefits include a transformative reevaluation of management goals in Puget Sound and closer integration of tribal and state resource management.

Research Updates

Washington Sea Grant-funded researchers developed and optimized lab protocols for removing contamination without damaging DNA quality or quantity.

Tests with contaminated, decontaminated and clean samples demonstrated the effectiveness of the decontamination approach. This protocol will be particularly useful for herring sampled at spawning beaches, but can also be used for other applications.