A political ecology approach to investigate the environmental impacts of cattle management in Puerto Rico, 16th to 19th centuries
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The nature and scale of environmental impacts due to the introduction of livestock into New World contexts has been the subject of much debate within disciplines concerned with changes of land use and land cover. The introduction of Old World species of herbivores into New World landscapes is often regarded as a catalyst to rapid environmental changes and a prevailing notion associates the presence of cattle with environmental degradation. My research aims to explore the environmental effects of cattle in Puerto Rico following European colonization. In this report, I employ a Political Ecology framework to contextualize the development of cattle management practices in Puerto Rico from the 16th to the 19th centuries. I discuss the potential of using a Political Ecology approach to understand the relationship between Spanish colonialism, cattle management practices, and environmental transformations. Finally, I propose the implementation of a geoarchaeological methodology to answer remaining questions on the impacts of cattle management during the colonial period in Puerto Rico.