2004 Denver Annual Meeting (November 7–10, 2004)

Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM


ROBERTSON, Gordon, Geography, Univ of Wisconsin - Madison, 550 N Park St, Madison, WI 53706-1491 and STILES, Cynthia A., Soil Science, Univ of Wisconsin - Madison, 1525 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI 53706-1299, grobertson@students.wisc.edu

Archival map research is a critical first step in assessing past land use patterns in Scotland. The barren, wild landscape of the highlands hosts field systems not always discernible in the landscape. Though abandoned over 150 years ago, a topographically influenced pattern of historic human agriculture still appears to influence current vegetation and soils; thus, present wilderness areas still bear a significant imprint of past human activity. Eighteenth century surveys on the Knoydart peninsula show settlement and field distributions prior to abandonment. Nineteenth century government and subsequent topographic maps do not represent such features, effectively ‘losing’ them to much landscape study. Determination of field locations are tested in a GIS combining Knoydart’s 18th century surveys with DEM, satellite imagery, and vegetation survey maps. Located on low coastal slopes, relic fields roughly fall into 3 categories: shore, midslope, and upper fields. Shore fields are peaty and morphologically degraded from surficial hydrology. Midslope, and higher field are better drained preserving ridge and furrow morphology and the buried natural soil. Given excess precipitation and low native nutrient levels, optimal field position tend to occur in these better drained midslopes, near to amendments. This architecture suggests a ‘sweet spot’ similar to Vitousek et al (2004) in the relatively steep midlsope category fields. Initial chemical analysis suggests these mid tiers retain a better signal of amendment than shore and high fields. Comparing field soils to neighboring, degraded nutrient source soils reveals a significant chemical difference. Comparison with nearby untilled woodland endoaquods shows the dramatic influence of human activity had in creating haplanthrepts. Interpolating soil properties from natural parent material, and topography misses important human influences that can only be spatially determined by field observations and archival maps.