Long-term man–environment interactions in the Bolivian Amazon: 8000 years of vegetation dynamics

Brügger, Sandra Olivia; Gobet, Erika; van Leeuwen, Jacqueline; Ledru, Marie-Pierre; Colombaroli, Daniele; van der Knaap, Willem Oscar; Lombardo, Umberto; Escobar-Torrez, Katerine; Finsinger, Walter; Rodrigues, Leonor; Giesche, Alena Maria; Zarate, Modesto; Veit, Heinz; Tinner, Willy (2016). Long-term man–environment interactions in the Bolivian Amazon: 8000 years of vegetation dynamics. Quaternary Science Reviews, 132, pp. 114-128. Pergamon 10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.11.001

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Only few studies documenting the vegetation history of the Llanos de Moxos, one of the largest seasonally flooded wetland areas in South America, are available and little is known about the environmental impact of pre-Columbian settlements. We use radiocarbon-dated terrestrial plant macrofossils to establish a sound chronology and palynological analyses to reconstruct the vegetation and fire history of the Lago Rogaguado area. The sedimentary pollen and spore record suggests that wetland and wooded savannah (Cerrado) environments occurred around the lake between 8100 and 5800 cal BP. Fire activity was high during this period and was probably connected to the dry Cerrado environments. The pollen evidence suggests early plant cultivation (Zea mays, Annonaceae and Cucurbitaceae) from 6500 cal BP onwards, which is significantly earlier than hitherto assumed for Amazonia. Gallery forests expanded after 5800 cal BP, when fire activity strongly declined. Forest expansion intensified around 2800 cal BP and continued until 2000 cal BP, when forest cover reached its maximum and fire activity its minimum. The late-Holocene forest expansion to the south and the decrease of fire activity may have resulted from a climatic shift to moister conditions (possibly a shorter dry season). New crops (e.g. Avena-type) or adventive plants (e.g. Rumex acetosella-type) document the impact of European economies after ca. 500 cal BP. Land use intensity remained rather stable over the most recent centuries, arguing against a collapse of settlements in response to the arrival of Europeans, as reconstructed from other Amazonian pollen records.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Physical Geography > Unit Paleo-Geoecology
10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Physical Geography
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Palaeoecology
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)

Graduate School:

Graduate School of Climate Sciences

UniBE Contributor:

Brügger, Sandra Olivia; Gobet, Erika; van Leeuwen, Jacqueline; Colombaroli, Daniele; Gondim Rodrigues, Leonor; Giesche, Alena Maria; Veit, Heinz and Tinner, Willy

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)
900 History > 910 Geography & travel
500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology

ISSN:

0277-3791

Publisher:

Pergamon

Language:

English

Submitter:

Monika Wälti-Stampfli

Date Deposited:

23 Dec 2015 08:59

Last Modified:

10 Nov 2017 12:35

Publisher DOI:

10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.11.001

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Llanos de Moxos; Amazonia; Zea mays; Fire history; Rainforest; Palynology; European impact; Cerrado; Land use; Pre-Columbian settlements

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.74379

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/74379

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