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Wood identification in historic sites: Inferences for colonial trade and modification of vegetation on Barbuda



Wood identification in historic sites: Inferences for colonial trade and modification of vegetation on Barbuda



Caribbean Journal of Science 36(1-2): 19-30



We report on four wood species identified from five samples taken from timbers in four historic buildings on Barbuda. Two samples were reported previously and three are new identifications. Fortuitous retention of splinter remnants from one of the older samples allowed us to verify the accuracy of its original identification. None of the species are native to Barbuda. Species of the white pine group (Pinus spp.) and the white oak group (Quercus spp.) grow in North America, greenheart (Chlorocardium rodiei) is native to Guyana and Suriname in South America, and bulletwood (Manilkara spp.) is native to the Neotropics, including the Antilles. These data corroborate empirically the importation of timber products into the colonial British West Indies, a trade that had been studied mainly by historians working from documents. Our analysis of the current body of knowledge about human-induced modification of Barbuda's native vegetation concludes that the vegetation has been modified more profoundly by the island's historic and modern inhabitants, whose occupation is brief compared to the preceding 3,500-year span of Amerindian occupation.

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