Special issue on island colonization by humans

The journal Quaternary launches a new special issue entitled “The human footprint on islands – the ecological impact of discovery and colonization” edited by Erik de Boer (Institute of earth Science jaume Almera-CSIC, Spain), Lea de Nascimento (University of La Laguna, Spain), Jamie Wood (Landcare Research, New Zealand) and Sandra Nogué (University of Southampton, UK). The discovery and settlement of previously-uninhabited land masses around the world caused dramatic changes to local ecosystems and biotas. These changes were particularly evident on islands, where human settlement usually marked the beginning of a period of habitat destruction and extinctions of local flora and fauna.

Although extinctions are perhaps the most widely known impact, they represent only part of the transformation that was set in motion after an island´s settlement. For example, distribution range shifts and extinctions led to the loss of biotic interactions, while new interactions were created following the introduction of invasive species. In the last decade, an increasing number of studies have reported novel and unprecedented anthropogenic pressures on island ecosystems. An improved understanding of the human footprint on islands will provide valuable information for biodiversity conservation.

In this Special Issue, we will study baseline conditions and drivers of ecosystem change on islands prior to human arrival and examine the timing and mode of human settlement to examine subsequent ecological changes. In particular, we are interested in quantitative studies of island ecosystem changes following their initial discovery and settlement. We welcome contributions from a wide range of Quaternary disciplines—preferably interdisciplinary or multi-proxy studies—across different timescales. Examples include ecological baseline studies (e.g., the effects of sea level changes during glacial and interglacial periods on island biotas), resilience or vulnerability of island biotas to natural and anthropogenic climate change, studies on (pre-)historical human land use, and studies on current threats, such as habitat loss and biological invasion.

Submissions are open. If you like to submit a manuscript to this special issue click here. The deadline is Fevruary 28, 2019.

For more information on other Quaternary special issues click here.

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Quaternary – new special issue on Africa

The journal Quaternary launches a new special issue entitled “Appying the Quaternary in Africa: the role of the past in supporting the future” edited by Robert Marchant (University of York, UK), Lindsey Gillson (University of Cape Town, South Africa) and Stephen M. Rucina (National Museum of Kenya). Africa, more than many continents, is highly reliant on the natural capital and resources for underpinning many national economies. Climate change, and how this will impact on ecosystems, is highly uncertain, likewise, the associated impacts on biodiversity, protected areas and socioeconomic benefits are largely unknown. One of the key findings from Quaternary science has been the documentation of large and rapid fluctuations in wetlands and lakes, driven by regional hydrological variability. This climatic variability has had massive impacts on water and grazing refuges during periods of drought, and is predicted to do so in the future, as pressures on these natural resources intensify due to fragmentation and increasing human populations.

As these pressures continue to intensify and modify natural resources, there is a need for policies and practice to promote successful adaptation strategies. Before this can occur, an appreciation is needed about how people perceive climate change, their current adaptation measures, and other factors that may influence decisions to adapt current practices. Again, salutary lessons can be learned from a historical perspective and longer-term Quaternary perspective. Meeting, and addressing, the challenges that African ecosystems face in a world of rising populations makes the need to understand human-environment interactions (past, present and future) more pressing, particularly because it is only through people—from local communities to policy makers—that a sustainable mode of human-environment interaction will be desired, implemented and hopefully achieved.

This Special Issue welcomes papers from a wide range of disciplines on how a Quaternary perspective on ecosystem and environmental change can be used to assess the challenges to future management of natural capital and natural resources.

Submissions are open. If you like to submit a manuscript to this special issue click here. The deadline is December 31, 2018.

For more information on other Quaternary special issues click here.

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Posted in Quaternary Journal

First issue of the new open-access journal Quaternary

The first issue of the newly-created open-access jorunal called ‘Quaternary‘ has just been released. This issue contains eight papers: two editorials, a communication, four research papers and a review. Five of these papers belong to the special issue ‘Advances in Quaternary Studies: the Contribution of the Mammalian Fossil Record‘ and one is part of the special issue entitled ‘Feature Papers in Quaternary‘.

The journal covers all aspects of Quaternary science, embracing the whole range of scientific fields related to geological, geographical, biological, physical, chemical, environmental and human sciences. There are no limits on space, figures and color (see the author’s instructions). More details are available in the journal website, where the inaugural editorial paper can be read and downloaded.

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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