What if the ‘Anthropocene’ is not formalised as new geological epoch?

In the coming years, the Anthropocene Working Group (AWG) will submit its proposal on the ‘Anthropocene’ as a new geological epoch to the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS). If approved, the proposal will be send to the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) for ratification. If ratified, the current Holocene epoch will be officially terminated. The ‘Anthropocene’ is a broadly used term and concept and, for many, its official acceptance is only a matter of time. However, the AWG proposal, in its present state, seems to not fully meet the ICS requirements for a new geological epoch.

In a recent paper published in Quaternary, I ask what could happen if the current ‘Anthropocene’ proposal is not formalised by the ICS/IUGS. The possible stratigraphic alternatives are evaluated on the basis of the more recent literature and the personal opinions of distinguished AWG and ICS members. The eventual impact on environmental sciences and on non-scientific sectors, where the ‘Anthropocene’ seems already firmly rooted and de facto accepted as a new geological epoch, are also discussed.

Reference:

Rull, V. 2018. What if the ‘Anthropocene’ is not formalized as a new geological series/epoch? Quaternary, 1: 24, doi 10.3390/quat1030024.

Posted in anthropocene, My publications

Second issue of the new open-access journal Quaternary

The second issue the recently created open-access jorunal Quaternary has just been released. This issue contains ten papers: an editorial on Quaternary highlights, a paleoinsight and eight research papers. Five of these research papers belong to the special issue ‘Advances in Quaternary Studies: the Contribution of the Mammalian Fossil Record‘ and three are part of the special issue entitled ‘Special External Effects on Fluvial System Evolution‘.

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.

Tagged with: ,
Posted in Journals

Special issue on past plant diversity changes

The journal Quaternary launches a new special issue entitled “Past plant diversity changes” edited by Laura Parducci (Uppsala University, Sweden), Rachid Cheddadi (Université de Montepellier, France) and Keith Bennett (University of St. Andrews, UK). This Special Issue stems from the Conference on Past Plant Diversity Changes held in October 2018 in Rabat, Morocco and aims to examine the relationship between past environmental changes and their impacts on different aspects of plants species diversity during the glacial-interglacial climate changes of the Quaternary.

Natural past climate trends have driven major ecosystem changes and have shaped species distributions across the planet. Modern and future changes in diversity will be driven by complex interactions between human activities and the global climate system. In this modern context, plant species have to evolve locally or migrate to more suitable habitats. The past can provide us with fascinating information on how species reacted to different climatic situations, which could enlighten us about how to successfully manage future plant species diversity.

Contributions exploring the relationship between past environmental changes (including climate) and species distributions, their long-term survival and persistence in macro and microrefugia during climatically unfavorable time periods, their migration capacity and rates to recolonize available areas, their genetic diversity, and the lessons we can draw from the past to help conserving plant species are welcome.

Submissions are open. If you like to submit a manuscript to this special issue click here. The deadline is April 15, 2019.

For more information on other Quaternary special issues click here.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Journals, Quaternary Journal

Paleoecology of Easter Island – new eBook

After more than three decades of paleoecological research, the potential role of climatic and anthropogenic drivers on Easter Island’s ecological and cultural change is still under discussion.

Pasqua

A new eBook published by Frontiers (Lausane, Switzerland) provides a synthetic view of the topic using evidence from different research fields such as paleoecology, archaeology, history and molecular phylogenetics. A holistic approach is provided at the end to combine the results of these research fields into a comprehensive framework able to account for most of the available multidisciplinary evidence.

The eBook is a Research Topic of the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution (section Paleoecology) and is edited by V. Rull and S. Giralt. It is subdivided into four sections: (i) paleoecological overview, (ii) human colonization, (iii) collapse or resilience? and (iv) holistic approach, and contains 10 papers by a total of 42 authors.

This eBook is dedicated to the memory of John R. Flenley, the pioneer of paleoecological study of Easter Island, who passed away on June 22, 2018, and can be freely downloaded in the Research Topic website.

Reference: Rull, V. & Giralt, S. (eds). 2018. Paleoecology of Easter Island: Natural and Anthropogenic Drivers of Ecological Change. Frontiers Research Topics, Lausane. ISBN 978-2-88945-562-1. Download the eBook

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Books, My publications

Strong Fuzzy EHLFS to fight simplistic determinism

Although the interpretation of Quaternary records of interrelated environmental–ecological–human processes is necessarily complex, it is often addressed using too-simple deterministic approaches. My latest paper on the subject suggests a holistic framework called EHLFS (Environmental–Human–Landscape Feedbacks and Synergies) to tackle Quaternary complexity.

The EHLFS scheme is a multiple-working-hypotheses framework, able to account for the particular nature of Quaternary research, and is used in combination with the strong inference method of hypothesis testing. The resulting system is called the strong fuzzy EHLFS approach. This approach is explained in some detail and compared with the more extended simplistic determinisms—namely the environmental determinism and the human determinism—as well as with dual determinisms or deterministic approaches based on two contrasting and apparently contradictory and excluding hypotheses or theories. The application of the strong EHLFS methodology is illustrated using the Late Holocene ecological and cultural history of Easter Island since its initial human settlement, a topic that has traditionally been addressed using simplistic and dual deterministic approaches. The strong fuzzy EHLFS approach seems to be a robust framework to address past complex issues where environment, humans and landscape interact, as well as an open system able to encompass new challenging evidence and thorough changes in fundamental research questions.

Reference:

Rull, V. 2018. Strong Fuzzy EHLFS: A General Conceptual Framework to Address Past Records of Environmental, Ecological and Cultural Change. Quaternary, 1: 10, doi 10.3390/quat1020010.

Posted in My publications, Quaternary Journal

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 February 28, 2019.

For more information on other Quaternary special issues click here.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Quaternary Journal

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.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Quaternary Journal