Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 8:40 AM
ECOLOGICAL-HYDROLOGICAL EFFECTS OF REDUCED BIOMASS BURNING IN THE NEOTROPICS AFTER A.D. 1500
Massive, pandemic-induced mortality in the Americas during European conquest yielded profound changes in human-landscape interaction identifiable in paleoecological and paleoclimatic records. Our recent synthesis of proxies of Neotropical fire and climate and atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations and 13C/12C (Nevle et al., 2011) indicates a period of reduced biomass burning accompanied by >5 Gt C sequestration into terrestrial biomass after A.D. 1500. This finding is consistent with a major reduction in Neotropical landscape management by fire accompanied by massive reforestation. Reforestation of abandoned, previously humanized landscapes in Neotropical watersheds likely resulted in reduced surface runoff and sediment load and a consequent decrease in quantities of terrigenous sediment transported to marine and lacustrine basins. Future paleoecological and field investigations and ongoing review of extant paleoecological and paleoclimate proxy data will help to delineate the scale and intensity of ecological-hydrological changes resulting from reduced Neotropical landscape management after A.D. 1500.