Native American imprint in palaeoecology
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Marc D. Abrams; Gregory J. Nowacki
Publication Year: 2020

Cataloging Information

  • fire intensity
  • fire suppression effects
  • indigenous peoples
  • mesophication
  • Native American burning
  • paleoecology
  • sediment charcoal
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: October 16, 2020
FRAMES Record Number: 62117


[from the text] Southern New England in the United States had a long history of Native American habitation and land use and was dominated by vast expanses of oak (Quercus) and pine (Pinus) forests. A recent paper by Oswald et al.1 posits that: regional fires were mainly climate-controlled and played a minor ecological role; the region was dominated by closed-canopy, old-growth forests; and Native American land use had little impact on vegetation. We disagree with these conclusions because of limitations in palaeoecological methods, particularly in detecting lower-intensity surface fires, and in that they contradict extensive scientific research in multiple disciplines. Over the last decade or more, the palaeoecological view has become increasingly climate-centric, which contradicts the proud legacy and heritage of land use by Indigenous people, worldwide, and aims and methodologies of vegetation managers promoting natural ecosystems and fire regimes.

Abrams, Marc D.; Nowacki, Gregory J. 2020. Native American imprint in palaeoecology. Nature Sustainability online early.