Monday, October 31, 2016

Fertilization of redcedar by First Nations

Recent paper in Nature shows that First Nations enhanced productivity of redcedar by use of clamshells that improved calcium and phosphorus in soil. Findings were featured in Quirks and Quarks on CBC.

Intertidal resource use over millennia enhances forest productivity


Human occupation is usually associated with degraded landscapes but 13,000 years of repeated occupation by British Columbia’s coastal First Nations has had the opposite effect, enhancing temperate rainforest productivity. This is particularly the case over the last 6,000 years when intensified intertidal shellfish usage resulted in the accumulation of substantial shell middens. We show that soils at habitation sites are higher in calcium and phosphorous. Both of these are limiting factors in coastal temperate rainforests. Western redcedar (Thuja plicata) trees growing on the middens were found to be taller, have higher wood calcium, greater radial growth and exhibit less top die-back. Coastal British Columbia is the first known example of long-term intertidal resource use enhancing forest productivity and we expect this pattern to occur at archaeological sites along coastlines globally.


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