Tune of the week

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Curso de postgrado sobre las bases científicas del Antropoceno

El Departamento de Postgrado y Especialización del CSIC abre un nuevo curso titulado: El Antropoceno: bases científicas, que tendrá lugar entre el 15 de enero y el 15 de febrero de 2019, en el Instituto de Ciencias de la Tierra Jaume Almera, en Barcelona.

El objetivo de este curso es proporcionar las bases científicas sobre las que se sostiene el concepto de Antropoceno, sin ninguna preconcepción específica, para que los asistentes se formen su propia opinión sobre un tema tan actual y polémico. El Antropoceno, definido como una nueva época geológica caracterizada por la huella humana global sobre el Sistema Tierra, se ha convertido en un término muy usado en una gran variedad de disciplinas. Sin embargo, todavía hay una disparidad de ideas y criterios sobre el origen y la validez científica de este término. En este curso se discuten estos aspectos para una audiencia no especializada. Las posibles consecuencias de la presión humana incontrolada sobre el Sistema Tierra y la necesidad de reconsiderar nuestra relación con el planeta no se cuestiona. El curso está centrado en la utilización de este argumento para proponer que hemos entrado en una nueva época de la Escala del Tiempo Geológico.

El curso está dirigido a graduados universitarios y estudiantes de último curso de una amplia variedad de disciplinas, tanto de ciencias como de humanidades y ciencias sociales.

Más información aquí

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Tune of the week

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A holistic view of Easter Island’s history

CLAFS (Cimate-Landscape-Anthropogenic Feedbacks and Synergies) is a hypothesis integrating natural and anthropogenic drivers of ecological and cultural change aimed at unraveling Easter Island’s history under a holistic perspective

Our latest paper paper reviews the existing hypotheses concerning the cultural shift from the Ancient Cult (AC) to the Birdman Cult (BC) that occurred on Easter Island (Rapa Nui) during the last millennium and introduces a holistic new hypothesis called CLAFS (Climate-Landscape-Anthropogenic Feedbacks and Synergies), which considers a variety of potential drivers of cultural change and their interactions. The CLAFS hypothesis can be tested with future paleoecological studies on new sedimentary sequences such as the new continuous and coherent record encompassing the last millennium from Rano Kao (KAO08-03) using a combination of pollen, non-pollen palynomorphs (NPP), charcoal, and fecal lipid analyses, at decadal to multidecadal resolution. The Kao record should be compared with other continuous records of the last millennium available for the two other freshwater bodies of the island, Rano Aroi and Rano Raraku, to obtain an island-wide perspective of spatio-temporal deforestation patterns in relation to climatic shifts and human activities. The CLAFS hypothesis predicts that the shift from the AC to the BC was associated with the drying out and deforestation of Rano Raraku (the center of the AC) by ~1,570 CE, followed by human migration to Rano Kao (the social center of the BC), where freshwater and forests were still available. Under the CLAFS scenario, this migration would have occurred by ~1,600 CE. Findings to the contrary would require modification and refinement, or outright rejection, of the CLAFS hypothesis and the consideration of alternate hypotheses compatible with new paleoecological evidence. Regardless the final results, archeological evidence will be required to link climatic and ecological events with cultural developments.


Rull, V., Montoya, E., Seco, I., Cañellas-Boltà, N., Giralt, S., Margalef, O., Pla-Rabes, S., D’Andrea, W., Bradley, R. & Sáez, A. 2018. CLAFS, a holistic climatic-ecological-anthropogenic hypothesis on Easter Island’s deforestation and cultural change: proposals and testing prospects. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 6: 32, doi 10.3389/fevo.2018.00032.

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Posted in My publications

Quaternary palaeoinsights open for submission

The journal Quaternary launches a new Topical Collection entitled Palaeoinsights, which aim is to provido a forum for essays and opinion papers on topics of interest for the science of Quaternary and for palaeosciences, in general.

This collection is aimed at encouraging open and constructive conceptual discussion on important topics in Quaternary science. The main objectives are to progress towards agreement on controversial issues, to introduce new unconventional approaches to existing problems, to find novel pathways of scientific progress, and to enhance the scope of Quaternary research as the basis for a more integrative view of our discipline within the framework of earth sciences. Historical and philosophical insights on Quaternary science and palaeosciences, in general, are also relevant. Authors may want to think not only about the scientific practice itself but also on why we do it and why we do it in the way we do. This transcends our routine activities and stimulates introspection on ourselves as science practitioners and also on the meaning of our discipline in the general context of knowledge generation. Potential impacts of Quaternary research on society, in the form of practical applications or cultural improvement—including formal education, popularization or policy making—are matters of interest as well. The main topics suggested are listed below but contacting the editor for additional proposals is encouraged.

Suggested topics

  • Opinions on controversial topics
  • Novel perspectives and unconventional approaches to persistent problems
  • Current challenges of Quaternary research
  • Philosophical issues involving the Quaternary
  • Peculiarities of Quaternary science
  • History of Quaternary research
  • The future of Quaternary science
  • Research careers in Quaternary science
  • Teaching the Quaternary
  • Quaternary science and society
  • Popularization of Quaternary science
  • Quaternary science and future environmental change
  • Contribution of Quaternary research to policies and regulations

For more information, click here or contact the editor. Submissions here.

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Posted in Journals, Quaternary Journal

Very simple yes-and-no questions about the Anthropocene

The Anthropocene – a real mess…

  • Have humans changed the configuration and functioning of the Earth System? Yes.
  • Should we change our relationships with our planet to be sustainable? Yes.
  • Should we stop overexploitation, contamination and garbage accumulation at once? Yes.
  • Should we change the global socio-economic system to improve the situation? Yes.
  • Are we in a new historical phase of humankind? Yes.
  • Are we in a new geological epoch? No.
  • Why not? Is not true that science has already accepted the Anthropocene as a new geological epoch? No.
  • OK, but this is a matter of time, isn’t it? No.
  • Is there a scientitifc proposal to formalize the Anthropocene as a new geological epoch? No.
  • Is it in progress? Yes.
  • Is it likely to be approved in its present state? No.
  • Regardless formal acceptance, could we name the new historical phase the Anthropocene? No.

More information in the book ‘El Antropoceno‘, English summaries in the papers ‘The Anthropocene uncovered‘ and ‘The Anthropocene: neglects, misconceptions and possible futures‘.

Posted in anthropocene, Books, My publications

Who is the author of your paper? Honestly

Usually, a photograph has a single author, that of the person who actually toke the photo. For example, the below picture would say: Photo by PL. The same is true for a painting, a symphony or a novel, even for past scientific discoveries such as those of Newton, Darwin or Einstein.

Modern science has different rules. Using current scientific criteria, the authors of the same picture would be PL, EG, JB, WK, OK, EG, TH, GF, ERT, HGR, EF, KI, MK, JL, ED, DS, JK, MB, SW, BV, CD, HS, AD, MI, FR, WC, OK, TF, LB, CX, FW, SZ, BC, JH, UF, SD and QE. The role of each author would appear in a footnote saying:

  • PL and EG conceived the picture
  • PL took the photograph
  • JB suggested to avoid backlight
  • WK advised to use a UV filter
  • OK agreed with composition and color
  • EG and TH edited the image in Photoshop
  • GF loaned the camera
  • ERT provided the tripod
  • HGR supplied the memory card
  • EF raised funds for the portfolio
  • KI is the owner of the studio
  • MK is the boss of PL, EG, JB and WK
  • JL was the mentor of PL in the past
  • ED is the husband of EG
  • DS, JK, MB and SW need to enhance their portfolios to obtain grants and promotion
  • BV and CD are young photographers willing to do dirty work in exchange for authorship
  • HS, AD, MI, FR and WC asked to be co-authors and offered co-authorship in their own photographs
  • OK, TF, LB, CX and FW appear in the photo
  • SZ and BC liked the photograph
  • Renowned photographers JH and UF were asked to be listed to assure success
  • SD and QE are renowned photographers who were listed without asking
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