LONG Term Impact of ancient AMErindian settlements on Guianese forests


Labex CEBA 2016- 2019


Jean-François MOLINO (AMAP, Montpellier)
Guillaume ODONNE (LEEISA, Cayenne)
For EcoFoG: Bruno HERAULT

Scientific Partnership

  • LEEISA, Cayenne - French Guiana
  • AMAP, Montpellier - France

Presentation of the project

A growing body of archaeological and pedological evidence, accumulated since the 1990s, suggests that Amazonian rainforests might have been much more densely occupied and intensely modified by Amerindian societies before the First Contact than previously thought. These discoveries, by challenging the very existence of “pristine” tropical rainforests, have forced ecologists to consider pre‐industrial human activities as one of the potential drivers influencing biodiversity of Amazonian rainforests. Indeed, several case studies in central and western Amazonia have already confirmed that the impact of ancient Amerindian societies is still locally perceptible in soil and forest composition. Such studies are, however, rare in French Guiana, notwithstanding the presence of all the required skills in both human sciences (archaeology, anthropology, ethnoecology) and environmental sciences (ecology, forestry, pedology). We thus believe that it is time for the CEBA to address this important topic.
The LongTIme project will build on the skills of several complementary CEBA and non‐CEBA teams, including Amerindian experts, to evaluate the influence of past Amerindian societies on present day soils and forest structure, composition and diversity across various temporal and spatial scales. Based on our respective experience and available datasets, we will implement specific protocols for a combined landscape‐scale evaluation of the intensity of past human occupation and of the impact of this occupation on soils and biodiversity patterns. These protocols will be applied during several field missions, during which knowledgeable Amerindians from across French Guiana will be invited to give their own traditional vision of the landscape and of the processes leading to current biodiversity patterns.
We expect substantial mutual benefits from collaborations with the DIAMOND and REKABIOS teams in all project phases, as well as in data analyses and interpretation. Through this novel transdisciplinary approach, as well as with new datasets and publications in all of our scientific fields, LongTIme will contribute to a better understanding of biodiversity patterns in French Guianese rainforests and thus provide key elements for environmental policy makers and

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