It is in our imagination a huge, pristine jungle. Yet, the wet Amazon rainforest shaped by ancient cultures, who made their favorite trees much more common than the nature would like. Study in Science confirms previous archaeological evidence for the role of the ancient indigenous people in shaping the landscape in Amazon.
As the researchers confirm, domesticated species of fruit trees are five times more likely to be over-represented in the biodiversity of the area in relation to non-domesticated trees. Furthermore, the domesticated trees are much more abundant in areas where human populations was before the arrival of European conquerors.
The team started with a list of 85 trees for which there was evidence of domestication, such as the large fruits. Field measurements in 1,091 parts of the Amazon basin showed that 20 of the 85 species were Acos ithista, as they called by the researchers, was “standing above”.
The comparison of areas where there are or there are not archaeological findings of human presence showed then that domesticated trees were much more common in areas where people lived. This connection was particularly strong in the part of the Amazon located in Bolivia, with domesticated trees correspond to 61% of tree diversity.
The excessive proliferation of these species, as the researchers say, was favored by the fact that these trees survive and reproduce relatively easily in the environment of the jungle.