Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. Earth Science News .




WOOD PILE
Scientists reconstruct pre-Columbian human effects on the Amazon Basin
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Jun 19, 2012


Crystal McMichael and other scientists collect soils in the Peruvian Amazon. Credit: Crystal McMichael.

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."

Other co-authors of the paper are D.R. Piperno of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History; M.R. Silman of Wake Forest University; A.R. Zimmerman of the University of Florida; M.F. Raczka of FIT; and L.C. Lobato of the Federal University of Rondonia in Brazil.

.


Related Links
National Science Foundation
Forestry News - Global and Local News, Science and Application






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





WOOD PILE
Scientists dispel myths, provide new insight into human impact on pre-Columbian Amazon River Basin
Melbourne, FL (SPX) Jun 19, 2012
A paper published this week in Science provides the most nuanced view to date of the small, shifting human populations in much of the Amazon before the arrival of Europeans. The research, which includes the first landscape-scale sampling of central and western Amazonia, finds that early inhabitants were concentrated near rivers and lakes but actually had little long-term impact on the outlying f ... read more


WOOD PILE
Japan sorry for not using US radiation map

Nearly 15 million people displaced by disasters in 2011

Experts discuss better nuclear disaster communication

Afghan quake rescue operation declared over

WOOD PILE
Lockheed Martin ATC Delivers Flight Hardware For Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission

Boeing Completes CDR of MEXSAT Geomobile Satellite System

Panasonic's first Android-based 'toughpad' unveiled in Asia

Microsoft tablet computer a big bet on future: analysts

WOOD PILE
Million year old groundwater in Maryland water supply

New research into flood impacts in the south of England

Indian 'sadhus' protest dam projects on holy Ganges

NGOs urge RIO+20 to back new treaty on oceans protection

WOOD PILE
Spanish Scientist Participate in the Most Comprehensive Study Ever Done on Ice

Warm Climate - Cold Arctic?

Divide the Antarctic to protect native species, propose experts

Arctic getting greener

WOOD PILE
Single-track sustainability 'solutions' threaten people and planet

Hong Kong wine auction fetches $2.2 million

Rapidly cooling eggs can double shelf life, decrease risk of illness

Word Food Program chief in Rio for UN summit

WOOD PILE
UN says Afghan quakes killed 75

One dead as powerful typhoon cuts across Japan

Hurricane Carlotta kills 2 in Mexico

Floating dock from Japan carries potential invasive species

WOOD PILE
Lions on the loose in Kenyan capital's urban jungle

US expanding secret spy bases in Africa: report

UN trade body says Africa must embrace sustainable economy

Madagascan community sets example of saving environment

WOOD PILE
The Rare Biosphere of the Human Body

Expanding waistlines threaten the planet: researchers

More people, more environmental stress

How infectious disease may have shaped human origins




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement