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Scholars once believed that tropical climates and biota were stable over long periods of time in the past. STRI scientists were among those who demonstrated through pollen, diatom and phytolith studies of ancient lake sediment records that tropical environments indeed experienced changes no less extreme than what occurred at higher latitudes during the past hundreds of thousands of years. These records also demonstrate the profound impacts pre-Columbian human populations had on their environments and show that they were not always conservators of the forests.

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