Early Holocene crop cultivation and landscape modification in Amazonia

Lombardo, Umberto; Iriarte, José; Hilbert, Lautaro; Ruiz-Pérez, Javier; Capriles, José M.; Veit, Heinz (2020). Early Holocene crop cultivation and landscape modification in Amazonia. Nature, 581(7807), pp. 190-193. Springer Nature 10.1038/s41586-020-2162-7

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The onset of plant cultivation is one of the most important cultural transitions in human history1–4. Southwestern Amazonia has previously been proposed as an early centre of plant domestication, on the basis of molecular markers that show genetic similarities between domesticated plants and wild relatives4–6. However, the nature of the early human occupation of southwestern Amazonia, and the history of plant cultivation in this region, are poorly understood. Here we document the cultivation of squash (Cucurbita sp.) at about 10,250 calibrated years before present (cal. yr bp), manioc (Manihot sp.) at about 10,350 cal. yr bp and maize (Zea mays) at about 6,850 cal. yr bp, in the Llanos de Moxos (Bolivia). We show that, starting at around 10,850 cal. yr bp, inhabitants of this region began to create a landscape that ultimately comprised approximately 4,700 artificial forest islands within a treeless, seasonally flooded savannah. Our results confirm that the Llanos de Moxos is a hotspot for early plant cultivation and demonstrate that—ever since their arrival in Amazonia—humans have markedly altered the landscape, with lasting repercussions for habitat heterogeneity and species conservation.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Physical Geography > Unit Paleo-Geoecology
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Physical Geography

UniBE Contributor:

Lombardo, Umberto and Veit, Heinz

Subjects:

500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology
500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)
900 History > 910 Geography & travel
900 History > 980 History of South America

ISSN:

1476-4687

Publisher:

Springer Nature

Language:

English

Submitter:

Umberto Lombardo

Date Deposited:

23 Apr 2020 13:25

Last Modified:

17 May 2020 02:45

Publisher DOI:

10.1038/s41586-020-2162-7

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.143456

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/143456

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