Analyzing the Impacts of Humans and Climate on Temperate Forest Plants

Authors: Sydney Gainforth*, , Julie Commerford, Saginaw Valley State University-Department of Geography, Gabrielle Gittens, Western Michigan University-Department of Geography, Kendra McLauchlan, Kansas State University-Department of Geography, Jeremy Wilson, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis-Department of Anthropology and Earth Science, Broxton Bird, Indian University Purdue University Indianapolis-Department of Anthropology and Earth Science
Topics: Paleoenvironmental Change, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: Pollen, Midwest, Early Native Americans, Medieval Climate Anomaly, Little Ice Age, Temperate Forest, Hickory
Session Type: Virtual Poster
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual 51
Presentation File: Download



Pollen can be used in many ways, such as solving crimes or recreating past landscapes. Through analyzing 46 pollen samples that were extracted from Avery Lake, Illinois, we can see what life was like at different times at this location. This site is situated near Kincaid Mounds, which is the location of the historic Mississippian people. Time periods that were examined include the Little Ice Age (LIA), that took place from about 1300AD- 1800AD, and the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA), that took place from about 950AD-1250AD. By performing an analysis of variance (ANOVA) on the pollen counts for Hickory (Carya spp.) trees, I revealed that their presence at Avery Lake is driven by human activity, but unchanged during the LIA and MCA. Additionally, at the other end of the spectrum, the presence of Pine (Pinus spp.) trees at the site was directly driven by the climate and unimpacted by humans. Overall, arboreal pollen increases when humans are absent and non-arboreal pollen increases when humans are present.

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