Lakes in the Guatemalan highlands have been centers of human settlement for several thousand years1 and demonstrate associated environmental modification including colonial gold and silver mining. The Lago Petén Itzá, Guatemala (16°58’N; 89°51’W) record contains multiple high-resolution Holocene cores which documents climate and vegetation changes and long-term human impacts on the environment1. Palynologic evidence documents forest loss between 6800 and 5000 14C-yr BP in the Petén Itzà catchment which coincides with a decline in carbonate δ18O, Mg, and Sr. Current research does not explain if this documented forest loss is associated with early agriculture, although the timing corresponds with Mesoamerican early agricultural activity34. We are currently analyzing the Lago Petén Itzá core for past biomass burning records.
1. Rosenmeier et al. (2002) Journal of Paleolimnology, 27, 117-131.