Historic Native American Impacts on a Temperate Forested Ecosystem, Northeastern U.S.A.

Author(s): Albert Fulton; Catherine Yansa

Year: 2016


We quantified the nature and extent of Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) disturbance on the forests of the Finger Lakes region, west-central New York, U.S.A., through multivariate statistical analysis of witness trees and survey line vegetation descriptions derived from original late 18th century CE land survey records and historical documentation in conjunction with archaeological site distributions analyzed in a geographic information system (GIS). Detrended correspondence analysis (DCA) ordinated the regional vegetation along a primary successional gradient associated with proximity to Haudenosaunee agricultural settlements. Furthermore, logistic regression indicated that proximity to aboriginal settlements was the most statistically significant predictor for the distribution of mast, early-successional, and disturbance-related taxa in the pre-Euro-American settlement forests among a variety of climatic and topographic predictors. We hypothesize that sustained anthropogenic vegetation disturbance - primarily in the form of forest clearance, vegetation burning, and selective mast tree cultivation - during and prior to the Historic period (1600 – 1800 CE) was responsible for the conversion of a portion of the Finger Lakes region’s late-successional forests into distinct successional communities associated with agricultural and silvicultural subsistence activities.

Cite this Record

Historic Native American Impacts on a Temperate Forested Ecosystem, Northeastern U.S.A.. Albert Fulton, Catherine Yansa. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404519)

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min long: -80.815; min lat: 39.3 ; max long: -66.753; max lat: 47.398 ;