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Populations of early human settlers grew like an 'invasive species'

South American mountainous environment adapted for agriculture through terrace farming
Amy Goldberg
Apr 5 2016

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Research, Faculty, Students

A study from Professor Elizabeth Hadly's lab finds that for much of human history on the continent, human populations grew like an invasive species, which are regulated by their environment as they spread into new places. Populations grew exponentially when people first colonized South America. But then they crashed, recovered slightly and plateaued for thousands of years after over-consuming local natural resources and reaching continental carrying capacity, according to the analysis.  Graduate students Amy Goldberg and Alexis Mychajliw are co-lead authors of the study, which was recently published in Nature.