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800-year-old farmers could teach us how to protect the Amazon
Date:4/9/2012

osystems on Earth, supporting a rich variety of plants and animals. They are also essential to managing climate. Whereas savannas today are often associated with frequent fire and high carbon emissions, our results show that this was not always so. With global warming, it is more important than ever before that we find a sustainable way to manage savannas. The clues to how to achieve this could be in the 2,000 years of history that we have unlocked."

Dr Francis Mayle of the University of Edinburgh said: "We've got an unprecedented record of these Amazonian savannas that completely overturns previous assumptions about the way in which ancient cultures utilized these globally-important ecosystems."

Dr Stephen Rostain of CNRS said "These raised-field systems can be as productive as the man-made black soils of the Amazon, but with the added benefit of low carbon emissions."

The study was carried out by a team from the University of Exeter (UK), Natural History Museum of Utah (US), Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (France), University of Edinburgh (UK), Universit Montpellier II and Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive (France). It was funded by two CNRS Programmes ('Amazonie' and 'Ingnierie Ecologique'), the Arts and Humanities Research Council and The Leverhulme Trust.

The research featured in the PNAS article highlights two areas of active research at the Natural History Museum.

During the past four years at the Natural History Museum of Utah, Dr. Power has been developing a modern pollen reference collection based on vouchered specimens archived in the herbarium collection. The majority of the plant specimens in the herbarium collection were collected during their period of flowering, thus the Museum plant collection provides opportunities to study the plant ecology such as the timing of flowering as well as the pollen morphology for each species. Pollen is preserved in lakes and bogs for thousands of
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Contact: Patti Carpenter
pcarpenter@nhmu.utah.edu
801-585-6369
University of Utah
Source:Eurekalert  

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