Navigation Links
Scientists reconstruct pre-Columbian human effects on the Amazon Basin
Date:6/18/2012

Small, shifting human populations existed in the Amazon before the arrival of Europeans, with little long-term effect on the forest.

That's the result of research led by Crystal McMichael and Mark Bush of the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT). The finding overturns the idea the Amazon was a cultural parkland in pre-Columbian times with large human populations that transformed vast tracts of the landscape.

The Amazon Basin is one of the highest biodiversity areas on Earth. Understanding how it was modified by humans in the past is important for conservation and for understanding the ecological processes in tropical rainforests.

McMichael, Bush and a team of researchers looked at how widespread human effects were in Amazonia before Europeans arrived. They published their results in this week's issue of the journal Science.

"The findings have major implications for how we understand the effect of the land-use change now occurring in Amazonia," said Alan Tessier, program director in the National Science Foundation's Division of Environmental Biology, which funded the research.

"Making the assumption that this system is resilient to deforestation, it turns out, isn't a position supported by historical evidence," Tessier said.

If the pre-Columbian Amazon was a highly altered landscape, then most of the Amazon's current biodiversity could have come from human effects.

The team retrieved 247 soil cores from 55 locations throughout the central and western Amazon, sampling sites that were likely disturbed by humans, such as river banks and other areas known from archaeological evidence to have been occupied by people.

They used markers in the cores to track the histories of fire, vegetation and human alterations of the soil.

The scientists conclude that people lived in small groups, with larger populations in the eastern Amazon--and most people lived near rivers.

They did not live in large settlements throughout the basin as was previously thought. Even sites of supposedly large settlements did not show evidence of high population densities and large-scale agriculture.

All the signs point to smaller, mobile populations before Europeans arrived. These small populations did not alter the forests substantially.

"The amazing biodiversity of the Amazon is not a by-product of past human disturbance," said McMichael. "We can't assume that these forests will be resilient to disturbance, because most of them have, at most, been lightly disturbed in the past.

"There is no parallel in western Amazonia for the scale of modern disturbance that accompanies industrial agriculture, road construction and the synergies of those disturbances with climate change."


'/>"/>

Contact: Cheryl Dybas
cdybas@nsf.gov
703-292-7734
National Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Scientists tie DNA repair to key cell signaling network
2. Top young Latin-American scientists named Pew Biomedical Fellows
3. 22 of Americas most promising scientists selected as Pew Biomedical Scholars
4. Berkeley Lab scientists help define the healthy human microbiome
5. Consortium of scientists maps the human bodys bacterial ecosystem
6. Citizen scientists to document biodiversity with high-resolution imagery during summer solstice
7. Evaluation of microscopy techniques may help scientists to better understand ancient plants
8. Dont feel like exercise? Scientists find compound that may help you work out harder
9. Scientists identify mechanism for regulating plant oil production
10. NYBG scientists identify 81 new plant and fungus species
11. Scientists find that rain may not always be a welcome thing to waterbirds
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Scientists reconstruct pre-Columbian human effects on the Amazon Basin
(Date:4/13/2017)... UBM,s Advanced Design and Manufacturing event in ... and evolving technology through its 3D Printing and Smart ... the expo portion of the event and feature a ... on trending topics within 3D printing and smart manufacturing. ... will take place June 13-15, 2017 at the Jacob K. ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... , Apr. 11, 2017 Research and Markets ... 2017-2021" report to their offering. ... The global eye tracking market to grow at a CAGR ... Global Eye Tracking Market 2017-2021, has been prepared based on an ... the market landscape and its growth prospects over the coming years. ...
(Date:4/6/2017)... Forecasts by Product Type (EAC), ... End-Use (Transportation & Logistics, Government & Public Sector, Utilities ... Generation Facility, Nuclear Power), Industrial, Retail, Business Organisation (BFSI), ... you looking for a definitive report on the $27.9bn ... ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/20/2017)... Fairfield, Iowa (PRWEB) , ... June 20, 2017 ... ... a chance to immediately determine the adulterants which pose the most likely threat ... 25 - 28 of this year. , IFT's annual food expo attracts ...
(Date:6/20/2017)... Parsippany, NJ (PRWEB) , ... June 20, 2017 , ... ... OHAUS makes the transition from being a trusted supplier in the weighing industry, to ... including cell extractions, ELISA essays, enzyme reactions, immunoassays, hybridizations and more, allowing for ...
(Date:6/19/2017)... ... June 19, 2017 , ... EDETEK, Inc., a ... that it is launching two new additions of its award-winning cloud-based platform CONFORM™: ... at the DIA 2017 Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL, June 19-22, 2017. , ...
(Date:6/16/2017)... ... June 16, 2017 , ... Cognition Corporation , ... two more sessions of its “From the Helm” Webinar Series. , The ... online templates for design control exercises. Led by David Cronin, Cognition’s CEO, the ...
Breaking Biology Technology: