Researchers have argued the modern Altiplano land cover—one of bunch grasses and few indigenous tree species—is an anthropogenic artifact of land use practices initiated after the arrival of Europeans in the sixteenth century a.d. Recent paleoenvironmental studies of the Lake Titicaca Basin challenge this assertion. Archaeological survey and excavation data from the Rio Ilave drainage indicate that settlement aggregation and reduced residen¬tial mobility began in the Late Archaic Period about 3000 cal b.c. Terminal Archaic occupational intensity increased after 2000 cal b.c. and continued up until about 1300 cal b.c., which marks the beginning of the Formative in the basin. Pollen data from lake cores suggest that tree species were com-mon throughout the basin until 2000 b.c., when they were replaced by pollens of herbaceous species. Combined with data on charcoal frequency and size, these data suggest that land use practices associated with the Terminal to For¬mative transition led to at least partial deforestation of the Titicaca Basin.
- historical ecology
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