Biodiversity and Functional Traits Reflect Indigenous Forest Gardens in the Pacific Northwest

Date and Time: 
Thursday, 11 May, 2017 - 10:45
Abstract Key Words: 
historical ecology, Archaeology
Author(s): 
Armstrong
, Chelsey Geralda - Simon Fraser University
McAlvay
, Alex - University Wisconsin, Madison
Miller
, Jesse - University of California-Davis
Lepofsky
, Dana - Simon Fraser University
Turner
, Nancy J. - University of Victoria

Globally, archaeological sites are often associated with distinct vegetation patterns.  Modern plant species composition was surveyed at four archaeological villages in British Columbia (cal. 5000 BP- 1870 AD) and inventories were used to test the influence of site history on species abundance and functional trait composition. Results indicate increased species richness and functional diversity at village sites (versus surrounding forests), as well as plants with larger seeds, and animal-mediated dispersal mechanisms. Abundant large, fruit-bearing shrubs were a distinctive part of the community at village sites (indicator species) but were rare in surrounding forests. This work builds on an increasing awareness that Indigenous people in the Pacific Northwest actively managed their lived landscapes to increase the productivity and proclivity of desired plants, in this case, by tending forest gardens near their ancestral homes.