An Imperfect Balance: Landscape Transformations in the Pre-Columbian Americas

An Imperfect Balance: Landscape Transformations in the Pre-Columbian Americas

by David L. Lentz
     
 

We often envision the New World before the arrival of the Europeans as a land of pristine natural beauty and undisturbed environments. However, David Lentz offers an alternative view by detailing the impact of native cultures on these ecosystems prior to their contact with Europeans. Drawing on a wide range of experts from the fields of paleoclimatology, historical

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Overview

We often envision the New World before the arrival of the Europeans as a land of pristine natural beauty and undisturbed environments. However, David Lentz offers an alternative view by detailing the impact of native cultures on these ecosystems prior to their contact with Europeans. Drawing on a wide range of experts from the fields of paleoclimatology, historical ecology, paleontology, botany, geology, conservation science, and resource management, this book unlocks the secret of how the Western Hemisphere's indigenous inhabitants influenced and transformed their natural environment.

A rare combination of collaborators uncovers the changes that took place in North America, Mexico, Central America, the Andes, and Amazonia. Each section of the book has been comprehensively arranged so that a botanical description of the natural vegetation of the region is coupled with a set of case studies outlining local human influences. From modifications of vegetation, to changes in soil, wildlife, microclimate, hydrology, and the land surface itself, this collection addresses one of the great issues of our time: the human modification of the earth.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231111560
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
09/28/2000
Series:
Historical Ecology Series
Pages:
788
Product dimensions:
7.24(w) x 10.22(h) x 1.33(d)
Lexile:
1420L (what's this?)

Meet the Author

David Lentz is director of the graduate studies program at The New York Botanical Garden. He is the author or coauthor of and contributor to more than fifty scholarly articles and books.

Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures
List of Contributors
Foreword
Acknowledgments
1Introduction: Definitions and Conceptual Underpinnings1
2Climate Change in the Northern American Tropics and Subtropics since the Last Ice Age: Implications for Environment and Culture13
3Vegetation in the Floristic Regions of North and Central America39
4Anthropocentric Food Webs in the Precolumbian Americas89
5Prehispanic Agricultural Systems in the Basin of Mexico121
6Prehispanic Water Management and Agricultural Intensification in Mexico and Venezuela: Implications for Contemporary Ecological Planning147
7Stability and Instability in Prehispanic Maya Landscapes179
8Precolumbian Silviculture and Indigenous Management of Neotropical Forests203
9Native Farming Systems and Ecosystems in the Mississippi River Valley225
10Hohokam Impacts on Sonoran Desert Environment251
11Vegetation of the Tropical Andes: An Overview281
12The Lake Titicaca Basin: A Precolumbian Built Landscape311
13Andean Land Use at the Cusp of History357
14Lowland Vegetation of Tropical South America: An Overview391
15The Lower Amazon: A Dynamic Human Habitat455
Summary and Conclusions493
Index507

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