Human Ecology

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 27–47 | Cite as

A Witness Tree Analysis of the Effects of Native American Indians on the Pre-European Settlement Forests in East-Central Alabama

  • H. Thomas FosterII
  • Bryan Black
  • Marc D. Abrams


Witness tree data from the southeastern United States (lat 33°30' N, long 86°30' W) were analyzed using catchment and distance analysis to quantify the effects of Native American settlement on the composition of forest trees. Thirty Creek Indian villages comprising 18 settlement catchments were included in the sample, which is the largest Native American–forest interaction study using witness trees to date. Lower frequencies of Pinus spp. were observed within village catchments of the Coastal Plain and Ridge and Valley. Elevated frequencies of early succession species were observed surrounding 2 km village catchments. Distance analysis at two relatively isolated towns showed that Pinus increases in frequency beyond 2000 m from villages while Carya had the opposite result. Field and fruit species were more frequent within 6000 m of villages and then dropped off in frequency. Fire-sensitive tree species appear to be in a spatially cyclical pattern.

Native American forest composition witness tree human–forest interaction Alabama 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Thomas FosterII
    • 1
  • Bryan Black
    • 2
  • Marc D. Abrams
    • 2
  1. 1.Panamerican Consultants, Inc.Columbus
  2. 2.School of Forest Resources, Ferguson BuildingThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity Park

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