A team led by Florida Tech’s Mark Bush, professor and chair of the Conservation Biology and Ecology Program, has been awarded a nearly $33,000 grant from the National Geographic Society to investigate the impacts of climate change and volcanic activity on the cultural history of human inhabitants of the Ecuadorian cloud forest.
Florida Tech is the lead institution on the research and will be collaborating with scientists from Universidad Regional Amazónica IKIAM in Ecuador, and the University of Michigan.
“The mid-elevations of the Ecuadorean Andes are largely unexplored in terms of archaeology, paleoecology, and paleoclimate, we will be investigating the history of the forest at elevations between 1,600 and 1,900 meters above sea-level,” Bush said.
The study site, on the flanks of Volcan Sangay, offers an exceptional opportunity to combine analysis of lake sediments and stalagmites from nearby caves. These sources are expected to provide excellent archives of ecological and climatic change, which will then be compared with archaeological data derived from a nearby, partially mapped mound complex.
Bush said the team will seek answers to two key questions: How much did people alter the mid-elevation cloud forests prior to European arrival? And were climate changes responsible for cultural transitions evident in the archaeological record?
PHOTO: Lake Cormoran is one of several lakes in the Ecuadorean Andes that Mark Bush and his team will study.