Pre-colonial Land Use Patterns Identified

ATHENS, Ohio, April 15 (UPI) — A chemical analysis of a stalagmite suggests early Native Americans left a bigger carbon footprint than has been thought.

The study, led by Ohio University scientists, is said to provide more evidence that humans impacted global climate long before the modern industrial era.

The chemical analysis of the stalagmite found in the mountainous Buckeye Creek basin of West Virginia suggests native people contributed a significant level of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere through land use practices, researchers said, noting Native Americans burned trees to manage the forests to yield the nuts and fruit that were a large part of their diets.

“They had achieved a pretty sophisticated level of living that I don’t think people have fully appreciated,” said Associate Professor Gregory Springer, the study’s lead author. “They were very advanced, and they knew how to get the most out of the forests and landscapes they lived in. This was all across North America, not just a few locations.”

The research that included scientists from the University of Texas-Arlington and the University of Minnesota was detailed in a recent issue of the journal The Holocene.

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