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Observations on Maya Subsistence and the Ecology of a Tropical Tree

  • Charles M. Peters (a1)
Abstract

The results from an autecological study of the growth, reproduction, and population dynamics of Brosimum alicastrum (ramón) in southern Mexico are applied to the controversy surrounding the use of this species in Maya subsistence practice. The frequent occurrence of B. alicastrum near ruins is explained by its competitive advantage on shallow limestone soils coupled with a continual input of bat-dispersed seed. Populations of the tree at Tikal are then compared with other naturally occurring populations as an example of how a detailed ecological analysis may furnish valuable insight into the historical use of a plant species. The Tikal populations are shown to be atypical in terms of phenology, productivity and breeding systems, suggesting that some form of artificial selection may have been practiced by the Maya.

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American Antiquity
  • ISSN: 0002-7316
  • EISSN: 2325-5064
  • URL: /core/journals/american-antiquity
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