Recovery of the forest ecosystem in the tropical lowlands of northern Guatemala after disintegration of classic Maya polities

Andreas D. Mueller, Gerald A. Islebe, Flavio S. Anselmetti, Daniel Ariztegui, Mark Brenner, David A. Hodell, Irka Hajdas, Yvonne Hamann, Gerald H. Haug, Douglas J. Kennett

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Abstract

We employed paleolimnological methods to investigate tropical forest recovery and soil stabilization that followed abandonment of agricultural systems associated with disintegration of Classic Maya polities ca. A.D. 800-1000. We used lithological, geochemical, magnetic, and palynological data from sediment cores of Lake Petén Itzá in the Maya Lowlands of northern Guatemala. Sediment core chronology was developed using radiocarbon dates on terrestrial wood and charcoal fragments. Our results indicate that in the absence of large human populations and extensive farming activities, Petén forests recovered under humid climate conditions within a span of 80-260 yr. Soil stabilization postdates pollen evidence of forest regrowth stratigraphically, and required between 120 and 280 yr. We conclude that the tropical forest ecosystem in the watershed of Lake Petén Itzá had been reestablished by the early Postclassic Period (A.D. 1000-1200).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)523-526
Number of pages4
JournalGeology
Volume38
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2010

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology

Cite this

Mueller, A. D., Islebe, G. A., Anselmetti, F. S., Ariztegui, D., Brenner, M., Hodell, D. A., Hajdas, I., Hamann, Y., Haug, G. H., & Kennett, D. J. (2010). Recovery of the forest ecosystem in the tropical lowlands of northern Guatemala after disintegration of classic Maya polities. Geology, 38(6), 523-526. https://doi.org/10.1130/G30797.1