Models, facets and concepts to consider in discussing landscape changes.

Write for five minutes, without stopping:

What evidence is there for a conflict in perceptions or values in the early America such as reflected in the Thoreau and Siry readings with respect to understanding how America was and ought to be settled?

Note the author and page.

Early national ideas

One way to think about changes in terms of a model.

Notes on Marshes of the Ocean Shore.

Reisner's criticism of land policy and irrigation practices.


Further questions | terms | models | links | labor theory of value | cultural landscape | related models |


Auxiliary information for organizing notes & explaining historical changes.

The ecologic approach to environmental history uses models to identify changes in patterns of settlement, populations, land-use and technological alterations of elements and features in any geographical location.

Sectionalism, or regional distinctions due to climate, soil, geology, weather & culture or economy:

Eastern versus western US -- adequate rainfall versus arid regions

Northern versus southern US -- glaciated as opposed to laterite (rain soaked) clay soils

Rivers are key commercial lines of communication to the interior and the seaboard.

Animals were introduced and European grasses with the livestock to the colonies

Spanish horses, cattle, hogs for the hide (leather) and tallow (candles) trade.

English and Spanish sheep, goats, chickens and

Kentucky bluegrass is actually a European introduction.

Agriculture competed with the fur trade (beavers, deer, fox. ermine, wolves) in frontier land-use patterns.

Cycles of boom and bust.


Often questions we ask lead like frayed threads to reconsider our assumptions.

What is evidence? What is history? What is ecology?


related pages

America's natural heritage essay

Historical geography

Course base





Three concentric circles

This model is a sorting device that can be used to examine nature, ideas about nature, and the formation of a cultural landscape.

Terms Concentric model examples
Cultural sphere
Cultural creativity, faith & morals, ideas, music
labor sphere Human & animal work, social economy
Ecological Core Water, energy, air, land, biota . . .
labor sphere Human & animal work, social economy
Cultural sphere Imaginative realm, ethics, art, architecture

The creation of cultural landscapes is a primary means to understand environmental changes in history.

linear model from which the above is dervied.



A reconstruction of an eastern woodland Amerindian settlement, Virginia.

That is any cultural landscape is both the product of repeated adaptations to nature and the images, perceptions and values in response to the physical, climatic, geographical and chemical constraints that are inherent in nature.

It takes time and exertion of effort to transform the terrain -- cultural landscapes are the product of that social transformation, emodied in structures, fields, orchards or ritual sites. These changes can be described in terms of a linear model from which the concentric circle model is a further elaboration.

What do we mean by values more broadly speaking?


The model bears some derivative characteristics from the labor theory of value concept and the formula that describes that theory. The formula is shown here:

Natural resources
Human resources
Capital surplus
ecological core
social relations and classes
subsistence and commercial work
tools and investments
unions, guilds, professions
goods, services, inventions


Jamestown, 1607. England's earliest sustained settlement was in the Chesapeake Bay region. An artists depiction.

Here, the formation of cultural landscapes in the region drew on English precedents, with introduction of horses, cattle and crops -- although Indian corn and wild game equally nourished these immigrants from Europe.


ecological core is the focal point where beavers, water sources, oil well or electricity generation from natural resources are all of central importance to how people settle and in settlements, alter their surroundings. The extent of the alteration depends on the forms that economic wealth take and are used in securing food, fuel, fiber and forage (provisions and or animal feed).


Ecological ideas developed slowly .

The economic well being of nations depends on ecological and environmental conditions that differs in places depending on geology, geography, chemistry, climate and physics.

At the center of her concentric circular model of the dynamic conditions of existence, was a distinct alteration of the core by grazing, agriculture, and commerce. These changes were later joined by urban and industrial transformation of both the core ecological conditions and the social relationships demanded by labor in the transformation of resources into services or products.


We call this transformation, the creation of wealth, or surplus in the Malthusian, Marxist and utilitarian concepts, especially the economic ideas of David Ricardo.


coreEcological Core: wildlife, fisheries, and geophysical conditions, such as different physiographical provinces that give rise to from 81 to 200 different ecosystems in North America.


Agriculture depends on this ecological-core, as do forestry and fisheries -- ultimately our food supply.

Of the 8000 plants that are edible we rely on twenty to two-hundred and predominantly cereal grains to feed the world's population. Still one-sixth to one-tenth of the population lacks sufficient food on a daily basis.

Also known as: An ecological model of three concentric relations:


core versus the periphery

Model based pages

An Ecological Model conceptual frame applied to social labor conditions
concentric model tied to weal
ecosystem drawn as a model of relations
Ecosystem model contrasted with Merchant's three concentric spheres argument
Ecosystem Model of Cultural, Social, and Ecological concentric Spheres
Ecological Model discussed in terms of wrting an essay
ecological model with three concentric modeled spheres
Model of Merchant's ccological change or revolutions tied to the labor theory of value & ecological core

tree and grass

ecological core is | worldviews | ecosystems are? | landscapes change