About Me


I am an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Victoria and have an additional affiliation with the Hakai Institute.

I am a coastal archaeologist interested in food, both as a substance and a medium for understanding human social relations, human-environmental relations, and human-animal relations. I am a specialist in zooarchaeology (the archaeology of animal bones) and historical ecology (contextualizing modern ecosystem observations with those from well before the 19th or 20th centuries). I am particularly interested in these issues in relation to the archaeology of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America. I am also keen on cartography, visualization of archaeological data, and digital zooarchaeological techniques and technologies.

I teach an archaeological field school in Nuu-chah-nulth territories in Barkley Sound. For more information click on the links and tabs above or visit: this site.


The UVic archaeology field school has been featured in the a new video produced by the university with footage from the Hakai Institute.

Halibut Derby for Archaeology

UVic anthropology graduate student Jacob Salmen-Hartley has successfully sampled his way through the Halibut Derby on southern Vancouver Island with the help of field assistant Johnny. Jacob is building a reference collection of a range of halibut of different sizes.


Historical Ecology Paper in PLoS One

Chelsey Armstrong from SFU and Anna Shoemaker from Uppsala co-led an international effort to consolidate research questions on Historical Ecology. This paper is available for free at this: link and this also generated some news coverage 


Indigenous Fisheries Paper online and open access

Hakai Blogged about my recent publication on the archaeology of Indigenous fishing practices with Madonna Moss here. Here is a link to the open access paper and a wonderful infographic put together by Josh Silberg below.mckechnie_and_moss_fish_bones_v9.png


Bill Reid’s Raven & First Men, UBC Museum of Anthropology. Photo: Nicole Smith.

I study the archaeology of the human use of coastal animals, with a particular concentration on fish, shellfish, and marine mammals along the Pacific Northwest Coast. My research examines how these ancient archaeological records broaden our contemporary perspective on human-animal relationships, present day resource management challenges and the under-recognized legacy of Indigenous settlement, use, and care for these coastal environments.

My research at the University of Victoria is investigating large-scale and long-term patterns in Indigenous resource use on the Pacific Northwest Coast. I am involved in several collaborative research projects on the Coast of British Columbia with Coastal First Nations through the Hakai Institute, and university researchers at Simon Fraser University, UBC, and the University of Oregon.


Visualizing spatial trends in marine and terrestrial mammal hunting in southern British Columbia and northwestern Washington State over the past 8,000 years.

Research Affiliations:

Hakai Institute

Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre

Resilience Alliance


Canadian Archaeological Association

Canadian Anthropology Society

International Council for Archaeozoology

Society for American Archaeology

Society for Ethnobiology


Please visit the hyperlinks below to view my publications or visit my academia.edu or researchgate page for additional access. Also feel free to get in touch via email (see ‘contact’ tab above).



Chelsey G. Armstrong, Anna C. Shoemaker, Iain McKechnie, Anneli Ekblom, Péter Szabó, Paul J. Lane, Alex C. McAlvay, Oliver J. Boles, Sarah Walshaw, Nik Petek, Kevin S. Gibbons, Erendira Quintana Morales, Eugene N. Anderson, Aleksandra Ibragimow, Grzegorz Podruczny, Jana C. Vamosi, Tony Marks-Block, Joyce K. LeCompte, Sākihitowin Awasis, Carly Nabess, Paul Sinclair, Carole L. Crumley 2017 Anthropological contributions to historical ecology: 50 questions, infinite prospects. PLoS One 12(2): e0171883

McKechnie, Iain and Madonna L. Moss 2016 Meta-analysis in Zooarchaeology Expands Perspectives on Indigenous Fisheries of the Northwest Coast of North America. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 8:470–485.

McKechnie, Iain, Sarah W. Kansa and Steve Wolverton 2015 Snapshots of Digital Scholarship in Zooarchaeology: Introduction to the Special Issue. Ethnobiology Letters 6(2):218–223.

McKechnie, Iain  2015 Indigenous Oral History and Settlement Archaeology in the Broken Group Islands, Western Vancouver Island. BC Studies (187):191–225.

McMillan, Alan D. and Iain McKechnie 2015 Investigating Indigenous Adaptations to British Columbia’s Exposed Outer Coast: Introduction to These Outer Shores. BC Studies (187):3–20.

Gerald G. Singh, Iain McKechnie, Todd J. Braje, and Breana Campbell
2015 “All Models Are Wrong but Some Are Useful”: A Response to Campbell’s comment on estimating Mytilus californianus shell size. Journal of Archaeological Science, 63(11):160–163.

Iain McKechnie, Gerald G. Singh, Todd J. Braje, and Breana Campbell
2015 Measuring Mytilus californianus: An Addendum to Campbell and Braje (2015) and Singh and McKechnie (2015) including commentary and an integration of data. Journal of Archaeological Science, 58(6):184–186.  McKechnie et al. 2015 Mytilus californianus

Singh, Gerald G. and McKechnie, Iain
2015 Making the Most of Fragments: A Method for Estimating Shell Length From Fragmentary Mussels (Mytilus californianus and M. trossulus) on the Pacific Coast of North America. Journal of Archaeological Science, 58(6):175–183. singh-and-mckechnie-2015.pdf

McKechnie, Iain, Dana Lepofsky, Madonna L. Moss, Virginia L. Butler, Trevor J. Orchard, Gary Coupland, Fredrick Foster, Megan Caldwell & Ken Lertzman
2014 Archaeological data provide alternative hypotheses on Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii) distribution, abundance, and variability. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 111(9):E807–E816. [pdf]

McKechnie, Iain and Nicole F. Smith
2013 Coastal Field Archaeology in Huu-ay-aht First Nation Territory, Southwestern Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.SAA Current Research Online 153 [pdf]

McKechnie, Iain
2012 Zooarchaeological Analysis of the Indigenous Fishery at the Huu7ii Big House and Back Terrace, Huu-ay-aht Territory, Southwestern Vancouver Island. In Huu7ii: Household Archaeology at a Nuu-chah-nulth Village Site in Barkley Sound, edited by A. D. McMillan and D. E. St. Claire, pp. 154–186. Archaeology Press, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC. [pdf]1337292633326Speller, Camilla F., Lorenz Hauser, Dana Lepofsky, Daniel Peterson, Jason Moore, Antonia Rodriguez, Madonna Moss, Iain McKechnie & Dongya Y. Yang
2012 High Potential for Using DNA from Ancient Herring Bones to Inform Modern Fisheries Management and Conservation. PLoS ONE 7(11):e51122.[pdf]

Szpak, Paul, Trevor J. Orchard, Iain McKechnie & Darren R. Gröcke
2012 Historical Ecology of Late Holocene Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris) from Northern British Columbia: Isotopic and Zooarchaeological Perspectives. Journal of Archaeological Science 39(5):1553–1571.[pdf]

McKechnie, Iain & Rebecca J. Wigen (2011) Toward a Historical Ecology of Pinniped and Sea Otter Hunting Traditions on the Coast of Southern British Columbia. In Human Impacts on Seals, Sea Lions, and Sea Otters: Integrating Archaeology and Ecology in the Northeast Pacific, edited by T. J. Braje and T. C. Rick, pp. 129–166. University of California Press, Berkeley. [pdf]

Braje Rick Cover

Mackie, Quentin, Daryl W. Fedje, Duncan McLaren, Nicole Smith & Iain McKechnie 2011 Early Environments and Archaeology of Coastal British Columbia. In Trekking the Shore: Changing Coastlines and the Antiquity of Coastal Settlement, edited by N. F. Bicho, J. A. Haws and L. G. Davis, pp. 51–103. Springer, New York. [pdf]


McMillan, Alan D., Iain McKechnie, Denis E. St. Claire & S. Gay Frederick (2008) Exploring Variability in Maritime Resource Use on the Northwest Coast: A Case Study from Barkley Sound, Western Vancouver Island. Canadian Journal of Archaeology 32(2):214–238. [pdf]

McKechnie, Iain (2007) Investigating the Complexities of Sustainable Fishing at a Prehistoric Village on Western Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. Journal for Nature Conservation 15(3):208–222. [pdf]

Moss, Madonna L., Dongya Y. Yang, Seth D. Newsome, Camilla Speller, Iain McKechnie, Alan D. McMillan, Robert Losey & Paul L. Koch (2006) Historical Ecology and Biogeography of North Pacific Pinnipeds: Isotopes and Ancient DNA from Three Archaeological Assemblages. Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology 1(2):165–190.

McKechnie, Iain (2005) Column Sampling and the Archaeology of Small Fish at Ts’ishaa. In: Ts’ishaa: Archaeology and Ethnography of a Nuu-chah-nulth Origin Site in Barkley Sound, edited by Alan D. McMillan and Denis St. Claire, pp. 206–223. Archaeology Press, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby. [pdf]




Zooarchaeology at UVic

The Department of Anthropology at UVic has a fantastic comparative osteology collection of over 2,500 mammals, birds, and fish from throughout the North Pacific. The lab is designed to be used for zooarchaeological identification and skeletal specimens are available on trays. The collection has been curated and managed for decades by the extremely knowledgeable Becky Wigen.

A portion of the zooarchaeology lab with prepared bones on trays against the wall. Photo: Iain McKechnie

The ins and outs of this collection is featured in this recent film produced by visual anthropology student Holly Cecil entitled : The Bare Bones