Listen to a conversation between a student and an anthropology professor.
So, how was the field trip to the nature center yesterday? You're in that biology class, aren't you?
Yeah, I am.The trip was amazing.
We took a hike through the woods, and our guide pointed out all kinds of animal and plant species.
She could identify every bird, every tree. I have to tell you,I was very impressed with her knowledge.
I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the trip.
Well, I'm interested in getting an advanced degree in forestry, after I graduate from here,so I love all this stuff.
And actually, yesterday's trip got me thinking about my research paper for your class.
Wonderful! Tell me more.
So our guide was talking about how the human need for natural resources has shaped the environment.
And I'd just assumed that the human impact on the environment was always destructive ….
Ah, but that's not necessarily true.
Yeah, that's what she was telling us.
She said there's archaeological evidence that some prehistoric cultures relied heavily on dead wood for fuel, or, um, just cut off some of the branches of trees instead of killing the whole tree.
It's so funny you mention that!
I was just reading an article about an archaeological site in Turkey, where scientists found evidence that ancient people had been harvesting the branches from pistachio and almond trees.
Of-of course, when you prune these trees-cutting off just the branches like that-you're actually encouraging more growth, and you end up with a bigger crop of nuts.
So this was a pretty smart strategy for collecting wood.
See, that's what I'd like to write about.
I wanna look at ancient methods of wood harvesting that didn't result in the destruction of the whole forest.
[warily] Hmmm … so you want to write your entire paper on wood harvesting?
[nervously] Is-is that a problem?
Well, it's certainly a timely topic. Researchers are investigating this now.
Ah, it's just that-well,I'm not sure how it fits with the assignment.
Remember, you're supposed to be focusing on a particularculture or region ….
Yeah, um, actually I was planning on writing about the wood-harvesting practices of the people who lived here-you know, the Native Americans who were living in this area-and what that might tell us about how they lived.
OK … well, that's a possibility.
I just want to make sure you can find enough information on that topic to write a well-developed paper.
I'd like you to get started on your research right away-maybe even talk to that nature guide, and show me what information you can find.
Then we can talk about whether or not your topic will work.