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Human-driven fire and vegetation dynamics on the Caribbean island of Barbuda from early indigenous to modern times

LeBlanc, AR, Kennedy, LM, Burn, M, Bain, A and Perdikaris, S (2024) Human-driven fire and vegetation dynamics on the Caribbean island of Barbuda from early indigenous to modern times. The Holocene. ISSN 0959-6836

leblanc-et-al-2024-human-driven-fire-and-vegetation-dynamics-on-the-caribbean-island-of-barbuda-from-early-indigenous.pdf - Published Version
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We present a multiproxy analysis of a sediment core from Freshwater Pond, Barbuda, one of just a few inland paleoenvironmental records from the Lesser Antilles. Our results shed light on the relative contributions of climate variability and Pre- and Post-Columbian human activities to vegetation and fire dynamics on Barbuda. The presence of macroscopic charcoal and pollen of ethnobotanically-useful and disturbance-indicator plant taxa in the sediment record suggests that Pre-Columbian subsistence activities occurred within a few kilometers of the pond between ~150 BCE and ~1250 CE. Our record extends anthropogenic fires back into the early Ceramic (500 BCE–1500 CE) and possibly late Archaic Ages (3000–500 BCE) adding evidence to the timing of arrival of the island’s earliest inhabitants. The history of island-wide biomass burning inferred from microscopic charcoal fragments showed heightened fire activity between ~540 and ~1610 CE followed by a period of quiescence that reflected the transition from Pre- to Post-Columbian land-use practices associated with European colonization of the region. The British established a permanent settlement on Barbuda in the 1660s, but given Barbuda’s unsuitability for large-scale agriculture, timber harvesting, small-scale farming, and livestock rearing, activities that left no detectable charcoal footprints likely dominated post-colonial land use. The lack of any clear correspondence between the reconstructed histories of fire and effective moisture at Freshwater Pond supports the idea that late-Holocene fire activity on Barbuda was driven primarily by human activity

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 0403 Geology; 0406 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience; 2101 Archaeology; Paleontology
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (from Sep 19)
Publisher: SAGE Publications
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2024 12:17
Last Modified: 28 Apr 2024 14:45
DOI or ID number: 10.1177/09596836241247298
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/22705
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