Barrens in Nova Scotia: Biodiversity, Long-term Dynamics, Plants and People

Date and Time: 
Friday, 12 May, 2017 - 10:45
Abstract Key Words: 
Archaeobotany, Fire Ecology, historical ecology
, Caitlin - Saint Mary's University, Ecology of Plants in Communities lab
, Erica - Labrador Institute
, Jeremy - Saint Mary's University, Ecology of Plants in Communities lab

Barrens are ecologically and culturally important ecosystems that provide habitat for a diversity of species.  Within the maritime provinces of Canada, barrens are concentrated in Nova Scotia and span a variable geography of environmental and cultural contexts. Our current model of barrens vegetation suggests that some barrens are persistent over long time scales, primarily maintained by climatic and environmental processes. There is strong evidence that other barrens are dynamic; their area expands or contracts over decadal time scales. We are just beginning to learn about the likely cultural role in explaining the persistence and dynamics of barrens.  For some sites, written and oral histories document intense interactions between people and barrens such as fire or sheep grazing. Given the cultural importance of many sites and evidence for human interaction with vegetation dynamics, much more research is required to understand the role of people in creating the current mosaic of barrens.