The report centered on three geographic and socio-political subregions: New England; the Middle Colonies; and the Chesapeake. They then looked at the ways in which physical variables--such as soil, vegetation, and climate--combined with socio-political factors to influence each subregion's hydrologic environment.
Science Daily reports that "In New England, for example, close-knit religious communities with strong central governments concentrated their economic efforts on fur-trading and timber extraction, according to the paper's co-authors, which include Charles Vörösmarty of the City University of New York, principal investigator on the NSF grant. Vörösmarty is formerly the director of the Water Systems Analysis Group at the UNH Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space.
The Chesapeake region, on the other hand, was settled largely by young, unskilled men who cleared trees and planted tobacco fencerow to fencerow. "This caused extensive erosion, which dramatically altered rivers," Pastore says.
The Middle Colonies were characterized by diverse social, cultural, and religious traditions and feudal-style estate agriculture."
The report goes on to claim that "resulting information helps determine past water residence times, which in turn allow scientists to infer changes in the biogeochemistry of rivers and streams.
Many pathogens, or disease-causing organisms, are linked to water flows. An understanding of historical water residence times, says Pastore, may lead to new insights into how diseases are transmitted today.
Our colonial past may be hydrologic prologue."
Retrieved December 15, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2010/11/101130122039.htm The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by University of New Hampshire.