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Early human occupation and land use changes near the boundary of the Orinoco and the Amazon basins (SE Venezuela): palynological evidence from El Paují record

Early human occupation and land use changes near the boundary of the Orinoco and the Amazon basins (SE Venezuela): palynological evidence from El Paují record
Early human occupation and land use changes near the boundary of the Orinoco and the Amazon basins (SE Venezuela): palynological evidence from El Paují record

This paper shows a Holocene paleoecological reconstruction based on a peat bog sequence (El Paují, 4°28'N'61°35'W, 865. m elevation) located in the transition zone between the Gran Sabana (SE Venezuela) savannas and the Amazon rainforests. Paleoecological trends are based on the analysis of pollen and pteridophyte spores, algal and animal remains, fungal spores, and charcoal particles. The whole record embraces the last ca. 8000. cal. yr BP, and was subdivided into five pollen zones, representing the following vegetation succession: savanna/rainforest mosaic (8250-7715. yr BP), dense rainforests (7715-5040. yr BP), savanna/rainforest mosaic (5040-2690. yr BP), secondary dry forests (2690-1440. yr BP), and peat bog in an open savanna landscape (1440. yr BP-present). These vegetation changes have been attributed to the action of climate and/or land use changes, as well as the corresponding synergies between them. Fire has been determinant in the landscape evolution. Based on the reconstructed fire and vegetation shifts, a changing land use pattern could have been recognized. Between the early and the mid Holocene (ca. 8.3-5.0. kyr BP), land use practices seem to have been more linked to shifting agriculture in a rainforest landscape - as is usual in Amazon cultures - with medium fire incidence affecting only local forest spots or surrounding savannas. More extensive forest burning was recorded between ca. 5.0 and 2.7. kyr BP, followed by land abandonment and the dominance of drier climates between 2.7 and 1.4. yr BP. The modern indigenous culture, which prefers open environments and makes extensive use of fire thus preventing forest re-expansion, seem to have established during the last 1500. yr. Therefore, a significant cultural replacement has been proposed for the region, leading to the present-day situation. Changing human activities have been instrumental for ecological evolution in this savanna-rainforest transitional region, as well as for the shaping of modern landscapes.

Amazon rainforests, Ecological succession, Fire, Gran Sabana, Indigenous land management, Savanna/forest boundary
0031-0182
413-426
Montoya, Encarni
7f93c60f-cc9c-4c5f-bb43-e42a38872e8e
Rull, Valentí
afd31aba-0540-4788-abea-f5f9e3ec3021
Nogué, Sandra
5b464cff-a158-481f-8b7f-647c93d7a034
Montoya, Encarni
7f93c60f-cc9c-4c5f-bb43-e42a38872e8e
Rull, Valentí
afd31aba-0540-4788-abea-f5f9e3ec3021
Nogué, Sandra
5b464cff-a158-481f-8b7f-647c93d7a034

Montoya, Encarni, Rull, Valentí and Nogué, Sandra (2011) Early human occupation and land use changes near the boundary of the Orinoco and the Amazon basins (SE Venezuela): palynological evidence from El Paují record. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 310 (3-4), 413-426. (doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2011.08.002).

Record type: Article

Abstract

This paper shows a Holocene paleoecological reconstruction based on a peat bog sequence (El Paují, 4°28'N'61°35'W, 865. m elevation) located in the transition zone between the Gran Sabana (SE Venezuela) savannas and the Amazon rainforests. Paleoecological trends are based on the analysis of pollen and pteridophyte spores, algal and animal remains, fungal spores, and charcoal particles. The whole record embraces the last ca. 8000. cal. yr BP, and was subdivided into five pollen zones, representing the following vegetation succession: savanna/rainforest mosaic (8250-7715. yr BP), dense rainforests (7715-5040. yr BP), savanna/rainforest mosaic (5040-2690. yr BP), secondary dry forests (2690-1440. yr BP), and peat bog in an open savanna landscape (1440. yr BP-present). These vegetation changes have been attributed to the action of climate and/or land use changes, as well as the corresponding synergies between them. Fire has been determinant in the landscape evolution. Based on the reconstructed fire and vegetation shifts, a changing land use pattern could have been recognized. Between the early and the mid Holocene (ca. 8.3-5.0. kyr BP), land use practices seem to have been more linked to shifting agriculture in a rainforest landscape - as is usual in Amazon cultures - with medium fire incidence affecting only local forest spots or surrounding savannas. More extensive forest burning was recorded between ca. 5.0 and 2.7. kyr BP, followed by land abandonment and the dominance of drier climates between 2.7 and 1.4. yr BP. The modern indigenous culture, which prefers open environments and makes extensive use of fire thus preventing forest re-expansion, seem to have established during the last 1500. yr. Therefore, a significant cultural replacement has been proposed for the region, leading to the present-day situation. Changing human activities have been instrumental for ecological evolution in this savanna-rainforest transitional region, as well as for the shaping of modern landscapes.

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More information

Published date: 1 October 2011
Keywords: Amazon rainforests, Ecological succession, Fire, Gran Sabana, Indigenous land management, Savanna/forest boundary

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 445894
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/445894
ISSN: 0031-0182
PURE UUID: b3a20961-c6e5-4da1-920f-aa79b4c127e0
ORCID for Sandra Nogué: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-0093-4252

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 13 Jan 2021 17:31
Last modified: 15 Sep 2021 02:05

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Contributors

Author: Encarni Montoya
Author: Valentí Rull
Author: Sandra Nogué ORCID iD

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