, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 211-222

Holocene climate and vegetation in the Milford drainage basin, Maine, U.S.A., and their implications for human history

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Abstract

A 9200 14C year fossil pollen record from a small kettle lake in central Maine, northeast U.S.A., records the development of nearby upland vegetation throughout the Archaic, Ceramic, and Historic periods of human history. The Early Archaic period (9000 to 8000 B.P.) began as open woodland dominated by Picea, Populus, and Larix, which was replaced by Pinus forest. During the Middle Archaic (8000-6000 B.P.) Tsuga-dominated forest, which developed ca. 7400 B.P., was followed by Pinus forest (ca. 6400 B.P.). The Late Archaic (6000-3000 B.P.) was a period of great transition; Tsuga forest developed again ca. 5700 B.P., but was abruptly replaced by northern hardwood forest ca. 4700 B.P. That Late Archaic expansion of hardwoods would have provided better forage for beaver. Coincidentally, boreal wetland mammals such as beaver (Castor canadensis) and muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) increase in faunal assemblages of local archaeological sites, while remains of anadromous fish decrease. We postulate that the apparent increase in human populations throughout the region during the Late Archaic may be attributed to an increase in the resource base within both upland and wetland areas resulting from the development of hardwood forest in response to climatic cooling.