JOURNAL ARTICLE: The legacy of 4,500 years of polyculture agroforestry in the eastern Amazon - Nature Journal
The legacy of pre-Columbian land use on modern Amazonian forests has stimulated considerable debate which, until now, has not been satisfactorily resolved due to the absence of integrated studies between pre-Columbian and modern land use. Here we show an abrupt enrichment of edible forest species combined with the cultivation of multiple annual crops in lake and terrestrial fossil records associated with pre-Columbian occupation in the eastern Amazon. Our results suggest that ~4,500 years ago, pre-Columbians adopted a polyculture agroforestry subsistence strategy that intensified with the development of Amazon Dark Earth soils after ~2,000 cal yr B.P. These millennial-scale polyculture agroforestry systems have left an enduring legacy on the modern enrichment of edible plants, demonstrating the important role of past indigenous land management in shaping modern forest ecosystems in the eastern Amazon.