Toward the Future: Research and Applications
This extensive revision of the first edition of People and the Land Through Time incorporates research over the last two decades to bring the field of historical ecology from an ecological perspective up to date. It emphasizes the use of new sources of data and interdisciplinary data analysis to interpret ecological processes in the past and their impacts on the present. It describes a diversity of past ecosystems and processes, with an emphasis on their effects on affect current ecosystem structure and function. This historical perspective highlights the varied and complex roles of indigenous people in historic ecosystems as well as the importance of past and present climatic fluctuations. The book begins with an introduction to the importance of history for ecological studies. The next three chapters explain methods and approaches to reconstructing the past, using both traditional and novel sources of data and analysis. The following five chapters discuss ways people have influenced natural systems, starting with the most primitive, manipulating fire, and proceeding through altering species ranges, hunting and gathering, agriculture and finally structuring landscapes through land surveys, trade and urbanization. Two chapters then deal with diversity, extinction and sustainability in a changing world. The final chapter specifically focuses on the importance of history in basic ecological studies, in conservation and in understanding the consequences of global change, using a variety of examples. Throughout, the emphasis is on the potential for evidence-based research in historical ecology, and the new frontiers in this exciting field.
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