Montoya, E. 2018. Amazonia history: Contribution of palaeoecology to the scientific debate of pre-Columbian occupation and its effects on the ecosystems. Ecosistemas 27(1): 18-25. Doi.: 10.7818/ECOS.1444


The Amazon basin is considered nowadays amongst the lasts “green lungs” on Earth. This region has been subjected to a variety of studies aimed to improve the understanding of the ecological dynamics that govern such a diverse location. From a socio-ecological point of view, several hypotheses have been proposed about pre-Columbian human populations and their effects on biodiversity. Thus, some of these debates deal with: i) The extent and density of inhabitants (i.e., from nomadic single-family groups to over populated cities), ii) Human population contribution to diversity (e.g., is current diversity human-driven or a relic of surviving species), and iii) The impact occurred on plant communities (including hypotheses ranging from natural parklands to pristine landscapes). This work presents the history of some of these hypotheses resulting from disciplines such as archaeology, sociology, ecology and biogeography. Specifically, I will try to highlight how palaeoecology has contributed to support or reject some of these thoughts from a holistic and empirical approach. In addition, some future directions for multidisciplinary research are proposed.

Reference article

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