Abstract Detail

Poster Session

Ponder, Kori [1], Ross, Nanci J. [2].

Ancient Maya land-use legacies and forest regeneration dynamics in NW Belize.

The Maya peoples lived under the canopy of the Mesoamerican forests for millennia until the famous cultural collapse around 1000 A.D. Previous research has identified a long-term legacy of ancient ‘forest gardens’—tree-dominated home gardens providing the Maya with food, medicines, tools, as well as spiritual and cultural services—in the species composition of a forest reserve in the heart of the Maya region. Forests within ancient residential areas still reflect a higher abundance of forest garden species than comparable forest with no evidence of ancient settlement. The persistence of ancient forest garden tree communities suggests that ancient Maya forest gardeners may have recognized and exploited ecological characters that enhanced the stability of the garden community—synergisms. This research was conducted in the El Pilar Archaeological Reserve. El Pilar is a cross-border reserve between Belize and Guatemala and was the location of the largest Maya site in the Belize River area of northwest Belize. The reserve is contiguous with the UNESCO Maya Biosphere Reserve in N Guatemala. Unfortunately, the reserve is under increasing threat from illegal logging and resource extraction that may influence forest regeneration dynamics. We used GIS to investigate changes in land use and land cover over the last 30 years. Landsat images were analyzed to determine changes in land cover, forest regeneration, and land use. This is only a first step in investigating the complex mechanisms behind the long-term maintenance of the Maya forest tree community. This project is correlated with a seed rain and seedling composition study to investigate forest regeneration dynamics at multiple scales.

1 - Drake University, Environmental Science and Policy, 2507 University, Olin Hall, Des Moines, Iowa, 50311, United States
2 - Drake University, Biology, 2507 University, Olin Hall, Des Moines, IA, 50311, USA

Ancient Maya
forest regeneration
forest dynamics
land-use legacies.

Presentation Type: Poster
Abstract ID:47
Candidate for Awards:Julia F. Morton Award