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Trisalyn Nelson, Foundation Professor and director of the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, has been named as one of the recipients of the 2017 W.S. Cooper Award from the Ecological Society of America.
The W.S. Cooper Award honors the authors of an outstanding publication in the field of geobotany, physiographic ecology, plant succession or the distribution of plants along environmental gradients.
Nelson served as coauthor of the article “Intertidal resource use over millennia enhances forest productivity” published in Nature Communications.
First author Andrew Trant, a professor at the University of Waterloo, and colleagues revealed a previously unappreciated historical influence on forest productivity: long-term residence of First Nations people.
Counter to a more familiar story of damage to ecosystems inflicted by people and their intensive use of resources, the activities of native people on the Central Coast of British Columbia enhanced the fertility of the soil around habitation sites, leading to greater productivity of the dominant tree species, the economically and culturally valuable western redcedar.
Through a combination of airborne remote sensing and on-the-ground fieldwork, the authors showed that forest height, width, canopy cover, and greenness increased on and near shell middens. They presented the first documentation of influence on forest productivity by the daily life activities of traditional human communities.
Nelson, along with her colleagues, will be presented their award during the Ecological Society of America’s annual meeting in August.