Tropical forests provide important habitat for a tremendous diversity of plant and animal species. However, limitations in measuring and monitoring the structure and function of tropical forests has caused these systems to remain poorly understood. Remote-sensing technology has provided a powerful tool for quantification of structural patterns and associating these with resource use. Satellite and aerial platforms can be used to collect remotely sensed images of tropical forests that can be applied to ecological research and management. Chapter 1 of this article highlights the resources available for tropical forest remote sensing and presents a case-study that demonstrates its application to a neotropical forest located in the Petén region of northern Guatemala. The ancient polity of Tikal has been extensively studied by archaeologists and soil scientists, but little is known about the subsistence and ancient farming techniques that sustained its inhabitants. The objective of chapter 2 was to create predictive models for ancient maize (Zea mays L.) agriculture in the Tikal National Park, Petén, Guatemala, improving our understanding of settlement patterns and the ecological potentials surrounding the site in a cost effective manner. Ancient maize agriculture was described in this study as carbon (C) isotopic signatures left in the soil humin fraction. Probability models predicting C isotopic enrichment and carbonate C were used to outline areas of potential long term maize agriculture. It was found that the Tikal area not only supports a great variety of potential food production systems but the models suggest multiple maize agricultural practices were used.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Plant and Wildlife Sciences



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Tikal, Guatemala, classic Maya, stable carbon isotopes, AIRSAR, landsat, ancient agriculture, hyperniche, non-parametric multiplicative regression, model, modeling, predictive modeling