The research shows that pre-colonial populations have left important traces in the Amazon and contributed to the change of forest structure.

Scientists brought together the dendrochronology and historical research to investigate the effects of social and demographic changes on forest degradation and the growth dynamics of a neotropic tree species.

A study of scientists from the National Institute of Amazon Studies and researchers from the Department of Human History of the Max Planck Institute shows the impact of human population and its practices on the taming of rainforest.

Using a non-destructive sampling method, the researchers collected specimens from peels from the middle of the Brazilian peanut tree and compared the tree ring data received from 67 trees. This study was the first to extend the human impact on the growth of trees up to 400 years ago, to the pre-colonial periods in the Brazilian region.

At the same time, this study reinforces the fact that pre-colonial populations have left important traces in the Amazon and contributed to the change of forest structure and resources over time.

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Brazil nut tree near a lake near the house. C: Victor L. Caetano Andrade

Domesticized Amazon

Until recently, it was often argued that the forests in the Amazon Basin had te preserved its purity Yakın or that the area saw and used only a small scale of human occupation from the arrival of European explorers in the 16th century.

However, the last archaeobotanical, archaeological, paleogeological and ecological investigations; It draws attention to a wide and diverse range of evidence from pre-Columbian societies on the domestication, distribution, forest management and landscape changes of plants.

However; human management in tropical forests has undergone a sharp change with the rise of globalized industrial societies. Today, in the Amazon forests, there are many economically important trees that dominate the field, some of which are undergoing a domestication process. Therefore; Understanding the changes in forest management over the last century that we have witnessed in the Amazon forests has significant implications for the ongoing human interaction with these threatened ecosystems.

Ğ The results of this study show that the growth of the Brazilian hazelnut tree reflects the intensity and management of human resettlement here. With that, we are one step closer to the important interactions that make the Amazon jungle a dynamic and human-adapted natural environment, ın says Victor Caetano Andrade, the lead author of the study.

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Measurement of the diameter of a Brazil nut tree body. C: Victor L. Caetano Andrade

Date saved on rings

Recently, dendroecological studies are emerging as a promising way to investigate changes in the tropical forests around. In these studies, as in the case of the Brazilian hazelnut tree, the annual formed rings in some tree species are evaluated to obtain information about their age and their annual growth. Formation and sudden changes in tree growth, which can be seen in the rings of a tree, provide an insight into past local environmental conditions.

In the current study, the researchers have worked in the Central Amazon Region near Manaus, which is locally known as castanhais, with a high concentration of Brazilian hazelnut trees. In the last 400 years, they compared the existing historical information about the changes in human populations and political changes in the region over the last 400 years by means of non-destructive sampling of samples extracted from the shells in the middle of the tree.

Indigenous and Colonial Era: Change in Life through Forest

Based on their interpretations of tree rings, the researchers drew a picture of how these hazelnut trees relate to their prehistoric and post-colonial human forest management.

Management of trees in Amazon forests; it generally includes applications such as cleaning the lower vegetation, opening the forest canopy, cutting the wooded vineyard plants and actively protecting the individuals. The researchers have undertaken this research hoping to find evidence of these practices on tree rings.

They gathered historical information about the native people of Mura, who settled here before the Portuguese colonial rule was established in the region and witnessed the collapse of their own populations in the early 18th century and followed the formation of a new post-colonial society.

During the transition period between the decline of the indigenous population and the expansion of a post-colonial political center (the city of Manaus), the human population was low, which coincided with a period when there were no new trees in the region.

This gap in the creation of trees, as in other pre-Columbian societies, raises the idea that there is an interruption in local government practices due to the collapse of the population. Regarding the changes in the growth rate of existing trees, the next period of re-creation of trees; It takes place on the axis of shifting to modern forest exploitation in the late 19th and 20th centuries.

Understanding the evolution of the European colonialists and the change of forest management in the period following the rise of industrial forces over the past centuries has an impact on the future of sustainable forestry and conservation in the Amazon forests.

. Our findings shed light on the history of human-forest interaction through the growth rings of trees in the Amazon jungle,. Says Caetano Andrade. Future interdisciplinary analysis of these trees, including the use of genetics and isotopes, should provide more detailed research on the potential implications of conservation of these areas in the pre-colonial era and in the colonial period and in the industrial era of human action in these parts of the world. ” says.

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