4 files

Data from: Historical Indigenous Land-Use Explains Plant Functional Trait Diversity

posted on 13.04.2021, 02:57 by Jesse MillerJesse Miller

Human land-use legacies have long-term effects on plant community composition and
ecosystem function. While ancient and historical land-use is known to affect biodiversity
patterns, it is unknown whether such legacies affect other plant community properties
such as the diversity of functional traits. Functional traits are a critical tool for
understanding ecological communities because they give insights into community
assembly processes as well as potential species interactions and other ecosystem
functions. Here, we present the first systematic study evaluating how plant functional trait
distributions and functional diversity are affected by ancient and historical Indigenous
forest management in the Pacific Northwest. We compare forest garden ecosystems —
managed perennial fruit and nut communities associated exclusively with archaeological
village sites — with surrounding periphery conifer forests. We find that forest gardens
have substantially greater plant and functional trait diversity than periphery forests even
more than 150 years after management ceased. Forests managed by Indigenous peoples
in the past now provide diverse resources and habitat for animals and pollinators and are
more productive than naturally forested ecosystems. Although ecological studies rarely
incorporate Indigenous land-use legacies, the positive effects of Indigenous land-use on
contemporary functional and taxonomic diversity that we observe provide some of the
strongest evidence yet that Indigenous management practices are tied to ecosystem health
and resilience.


Usage metrics