Prehistoric human impact on tree island lifecycles in the Florida Everglades

Traci Ardren, Justin P. Lowry, Melissa Memory, Kelin Flanagan, Alexandra Busot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The current study provides a fine-grained analysis of evidence for sustained pre-Columbian human occupation and socio-ecological interaction within Everglades National Park. Utilizing archaeological data on dietary and cultural patterns recovered from recent excavations at a prehistoric tree island site, we argue the role of ancient human populations in the formation or augmentation of tree islands should be incorporated into environmental models of the tree island lifecycle. High phosphorus levels in human waste, especially the largely organic waste of prehistoric populations, as well as other anthropogenic factors have not been adequately factored into current environmental models of tree island formation or the ecological evolution of the Everglades. More broadly, while socio-ecological modeling is at the core of current scholarly and restoration paradigms, expanded collaboration between environmental scientists and archaeologists will lead to more accurate identification of anthropogenic environmental impacts over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)772-780
Number of pages9
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2016


  • Everglades
  • archaeology
  • ecosystems
  • phosphorus
  • pre-Columbian
  • tree islands

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Archaeology
  • Ecology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Palaeontology


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