Landscape Ecology

, Volume 22, Issue 8, pp 1201–1214 | Cite as

The landscape history of Godmanchester (Quebec, Canada): two centuries of shifting relationships between anthropic and biophysical factors

  • Gérald Domon
  • André Bouchard
Research Article


Taking into consideration ecological aspects in land management requires an understanding of the processes and dynamics that create landscapes. To achieve this understanding demands that landscapes be studied as a biophysical and social reality, and that phenomena be analyzed within a historical perspective. Based on the research of a multidisciplinary team over the last 25 years, this paper proposes to reconstitute the landscape of Godmanchester (Quebec, Canada) from the pre-colonial period (1785) to today (2005). Using various methods and sources of data, seven stages of evolution were identified: (1) the pre-colonial period, (2) the first settlements, (3) the first agricultural developments, (4) the maximum development of agricultural activities, (5) the concentration of agricultural activities, (6) the intensification of agricultural activities, and (7) the importance of new amenities. First, these results allowed us to identify three sets of fundamental factors that are necessary to understanding the landscape changes, the geomorphological characteristics, the socio-economic demands, and the technological transformations. Second, the results highlight the key elements and the perspectives that are appropriate to their comprehension, in order to be able to direct the future evolution of the landscapes. This requires that transformations be analyzed from mid-term to long-term perspectives, that the consequences of the changes, as well as the opportunities that they generate, are well understood, and finally that relationships be drawn between the biophysical, anthropic, and technological factors responsible for these transformations. This paper concludes with the idea that the creation of landscapes occurs through actions brought about by social demands and by the adjustment of technologies according to the biophysical characteristics of the territories.


Landscape history Landscape dynamics Multidisciplinary research North-Eastern North America Land use changes Resource management 



This synthesis paper is based on the dedicated work of our research group, especially the graduate students who are well represented in the references. We are especially grateful to Dr. Danielle Marceau for her inestimable contribution during the last years of this project, to the two anonymous referees for their very constructive comments and to Julie Ruiz for the figures. During the last 25 years, this interdisciplinary research program has been supported by grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada to André Bouchard, from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to Gérald Domon, and also by a team grant from the Fonds québécois pour la recherche sur la nature et les technologies (FQRNT).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Environmental DesignUniversity of MontrealMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Plant Science Research Institute, Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of MontrealMontrealCanada

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