Margherita Zona

Postgraduate Research Student


I was awarded a MA Honours in Anthropology and Archaeology from the University of Aberdeen. Subsequently, I achieved an MSc in Zooarchaeology with distinction from the University of York, where I also received a prize for best MSc research thesis in Zooarchaeology (2017).

Research Interests

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

Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) 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.


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

Research Funding

Arts and Humanities Research Council - North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership (AHRC-NWCDTP)