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Ecological responses to land use change in the face of European colonization of Haytí island

Ecological responses to land use change in the face of European colonization of Haytí island
Ecological responses to land use change in the face of European colonization of Haytí island
Caribbean island ecosystems underwent significant landscape transformations in the centuries after Columbus landed in the archipelago in AD1492, but there is no agreement as to the degree and extent of pre-Columbian human impacts and the long-term trends of ecosystem disturbance and recovery. Here, we present an integrative analysis of three palaeoenvironmental records in the northern Caribbean island of Haytí (currently Dominican Republic and Haiti), to assess regional landscape transformation and human impacts in pre- and post-Columbian times. We examine biotic and abiotic indicators of landscape and ecosystem change along the Columbus’ Route, the first European extractive transport route built in the Americas. Our data show that indigenous populations transformed the landscape between 1000 and 450 cal yr BP through slash-and-burn agricultural practices. Depopulation and forced population displacement through relocation of indigenous people into Spanish mining areas triggered the recovery and expansion of forests in the valley, coastal plain and mountains. In contrast, mangroves near the first permanent European colonial outpost in the Americas (La Isabela) underwent no significant impacts related to climatic, indigenous, and early colonial pressures. All ecosystems studied have suffered degradation through deforestation during the last 200 years leading to the present fragmented landscapes. In islands with long histories of human settlement such as Haytí, reconstructing temporal and spatial aspects of human transformations and impacts on the environment is crucial to improving our understanding of the drivers and mechanisms of ecosystem degradation and recovery.
Archaeology, Caribbean, Colonial rule, Columbus, Ecological degradation, Ecosystems, Forest regrowth, Indigenous, Island palaeoecology, Land use
0277-3791
1-9
Castilla-Beltrán, Alvaro
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Hooghiemstra, Henry
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Hoogland, Menno L.P.
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Donders, Timme H.
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Pagán-Jiménez, Jaime R.
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McMichael, Crystal N.H.
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Rolefes, Steven Marinus Francisco
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Olijhoek, Thomas
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Herrera-malatesta, Eduardo
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Hung, Jorge Ulloa
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Hofman, Corinne L.
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Castilla-Beltrán, Alvaro
f5e694c1-0f7e-4263-8e94-a0fe932dafce
Hooghiemstra, Henry
87fbb57e-8ab9-4fac-9010-ca77532cc7df
Hoogland, Menno L.P.
dc5d6cf2-1dcd-4f12-910e-d293276102fc
Donders, Timme H.
2f5d438d-7e8a-41ae-a262-aba02a29ea29
Pagán-Jiménez, Jaime R.
611209c0-8b86-4cc1-a601-a2b15e1cbe26
McMichael, Crystal N.H.
9165af5f-82ae-4700-adf1-dea2606f4e5d
Rolefes, Steven Marinus Francisco
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Olijhoek, Thomas
127a1cf1-23c3-45f0-8158-db7c187ac240
Herrera-malatesta, Eduardo
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Hung, Jorge Ulloa
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Hofman, Corinne L.
758e3dec-2948-44ce-b65b-54c24cb4f3dc

Castilla-Beltrán, Alvaro, Hooghiemstra, Henry, Hoogland, Menno L.P., Donders, Timme H., Pagán-Jiménez, Jaime R., McMichael, Crystal N.H., Rolefes, Steven Marinus Francisco, Olijhoek, Thomas, Herrera-malatesta, Eduardo, Hung, Jorge Ulloa and Hofman, Corinne L. (2020) Ecological responses to land use change in the face of European colonization of Haytí island. Quaternary Science Reviews, 241, 1-9, [106407]. (doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2020.106407).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Caribbean island ecosystems underwent significant landscape transformations in the centuries after Columbus landed in the archipelago in AD1492, but there is no agreement as to the degree and extent of pre-Columbian human impacts and the long-term trends of ecosystem disturbance and recovery. Here, we present an integrative analysis of three palaeoenvironmental records in the northern Caribbean island of Haytí (currently Dominican Republic and Haiti), to assess regional landscape transformation and human impacts in pre- and post-Columbian times. We examine biotic and abiotic indicators of landscape and ecosystem change along the Columbus’ Route, the first European extractive transport route built in the Americas. Our data show that indigenous populations transformed the landscape between 1000 and 450 cal yr BP through slash-and-burn agricultural practices. Depopulation and forced population displacement through relocation of indigenous people into Spanish mining areas triggered the recovery and expansion of forests in the valley, coastal plain and mountains. In contrast, mangroves near the first permanent European colonial outpost in the Americas (La Isabela) underwent no significant impacts related to climatic, indigenous, and early colonial pressures. All ecosystems studied have suffered degradation through deforestation during the last 200 years leading to the present fragmented landscapes. In islands with long histories of human settlement such as Haytí, reconstructing temporal and spatial aspects of human transformations and impacts on the environment is crucial to improving our understanding of the drivers and mechanisms of ecosystem degradation and recovery.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 31 May 2020
e-pub ahead of print date: 25 June 2020
Published date: 1 August 2020
Keywords: Archaeology, Caribbean, Colonial rule, Columbus, Ecological degradation, Ecosystems, Forest regrowth, Indigenous, Island palaeoecology, Land use

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 442459
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/442459
ISSN: 0277-3791
PURE UUID: f12d6f94-6f81-417c-84f6-f657dd37d965

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Date deposited: 15 Jul 2020 16:42
Last modified: 26 Nov 2021 05:18

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Contributors

Author: Alvaro Castilla-Beltrán
Author: Henry Hooghiemstra
Author: Menno L.P. Hoogland
Author: Timme H. Donders
Author: Jaime R. Pagán-Jiménez
Author: Crystal N.H. McMichael
Author: Steven Marinus Francisco Rolefes
Author: Thomas Olijhoek
Author: Eduardo Herrera-malatesta
Author: Jorge Ulloa Hung
Author: Corinne L. Hofman

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