Perturbations in the Field

Mike the Mad Biologist has a fascinating post linking to an article in Ecology (online journal) that discusses the effects of Roman settlements on the local flora in French forests. He writes:

One interesting thing is that calcium carbonate leaching from the
building’s mortar alters the soil pH, and consequently affects nutrient
availability. This increases the number of species found close to these

That’s right:  mortar that is at least 1700 years old is still determining plant community composition.

Get it? The ruins are continuing to influence the plant life immediately surrounding and on top of the old Roman structure. From the abstract itself:

These extensive observations in a forested region on acid soils
complement and confirm previous results from a single Roman settlement
on limestone. Ancient Roman agricultural systems are increasingly being
identified in contemporary French forests; the broad extent and
long-lasting effects of previous cultivation shown in this study
require that land-use history be considered as a primary control over
biodiversity variations in many forest landscapes, even after millennia
of abandonment.

612961894_342add9168 Pardon my wonderment, but I think it is amazing that the ruins of an ancient house are affecting the micro-climate of a forest. From the text, it appears that the presence of the mortar is beneficial to the environment, but I will leave the final determination of that opinion to experts. Regardless, this bit of news serves only to remind your scribe that we are all part of Gaia, and that everything that we do, no matter how innocuous, leaves ripples on the pond of our existence.


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