PoA 35: Research Articles

December 15, 2021

The second in my series highlighting papers in the recent volume of Palaeoecology of Africa (published entirely open access online) focuses on the research articles. The research articles make up the ‘guts’ of the volume, comprising 10 of the 24 papers. Three of these are from western Africa (Dinies et al.; Gosling et al.; Lemonnier & Lézine), two from eastern Africa (Githumbi et al.; Kinyanjui et al.), two from central Africa (Richards; Gaillard et al.), and three from southern Africa (Chevalier et al.; Hill & Finch, Hill et al.). These research articles present new data and key insights into past environmental change in Africa, which fall into two broad categories, providing information on: (i) how we can extract information from pollen data sets, and (ii) the processes operating to drive vegetation.

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Looking back to look forward

December 9, 2021

As a Subject Editor for Plant Ecology & Diversity I would like to take a moment to highlight two recent papers published under the theme “Global Change & Vegetation”.

The first Somoldi et al. takes us back to the roots of the concept of “Potential Natural Vegetation” (PNV) cover which has long been widely used and often debated in the literature. In their research article Somoldi et al. revisit the German text of the article that originally set out this idea (Tüxen 1956) and provide (re-) translated versions of key sections. The purpose of this is, the authors argue, to get a tighter definition and encourage a more precise usage of the term to avoid miss-use and miss-interpretation of the concept. They argue that the PNV concept is still a valid one despite the increasing human modification of landscapes and environments, but that its usage should be restricted more closely to the idea as it was originally formulated by Tüxon.

The second, Huntley & Allen, use palaeoecological data to test the hypothesis related to the expansion of pine woodlands during the Holocene (last 11,700 years) in Scotland. The examination of multiple sites in the Scottish Highlands reveals a dynamic mosaic landscape, and that the trajectory of change was influenced by climate, dispersal and preceding vegetation patterns. This new understanding of trajectories of change can help to anticipate how landscapes in the Scottish Highlands might alter under ongoing climate change.

References and links to the articles are below, please check out the journal for a wide range of articles related to Evolution & Systematics, Global Change & Vegetation Dynamics, Environment & Plant Functioning, Biotic Interactions and Biogeography. We accept articles on all these themes in standard “original research” format, shorter “rapid communications”, longer “reviews” and opinion related “perspectives”. Therefore, if you have a article that fits with these themes please consider submitting to Plant Ecology & Diversity.

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Columbus’ footprint in Hispaniola

May 30, 2018

Open access for 50 days with this link: https://authors.elsevier.com/c/1X6ja7tFrJFBkG

Castilla-Beltrán, A., Hooghiemstra, H., Hoogland, M.L.P., Pagán-Jiménez, J., van Geel, B., Field, M.H., Prins, M., Donders, T., Malatesta, E.H., Hung, J.U., McMichael, C.H., Gosling, W.D. & Hofman, C.L. Columbus’ footprint in Hispaniola: a paleoenvironmental record of Indigenous and Colonial impacts on the landscape of the central Cibao Valley, northern Dominican Republic. Anthropocene. DOI: 10.1016/j.ancene.2018.05.003

Kissling, W.D., Blach-Overgaard, A., Zwaan, R.E. & Wagner, P. (2016) Historical colonization and dispersal limitation supplement climate and topography in shaping species richness of African lizards (Reptilia: Agaminae). Scientific Reports 6, 34014. DOI: 10.1038/srep34014

Lutz, H.L., Weckstein, J.D., Patane, J.S.L., Bates, J.M. & Aleixo, A. (2013) Biogeography and spatio-temporal diversification of Selenidera and Andigena Toucans (Aves: Ramphastidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 69, 873-883. DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2013.06.017

Malhi Y. , Gardner T.A., Goldsmith G.R., Silman M.R., Zelazowski P. (2014) Tropical forests in the Anthropocene. Annual Review of Environment and Resources 39, 125-159. DOI: 10.1146/annurev-environ-030713-155141

Morueta-Holme, N., Engemann, K., Sandoval-Acuña, P., Jonas, J.D., Segnitz, R.M. & Svenning, J. (2015) Strong upslope shifts in Chimborazo’s vegetation over two centuries since Humboldt. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112, 12741-12745. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1509938112



Tropical forests in the Anthropocene

November 8, 2016

Yadvinder MalhiSeminar
Institute for Biodiversity & Ecosystem Dynamics
University of Amsterdam

Tropical forests in the Anthropocene
by Prof. Yadvinder Malhi (University of Oxford)

16:00-17:00, 24 November 2016
Science Park, Amsterdam
If you want to attend please click here for full details.

ABSTRACT: Continue Reading

Bertola, L.D., Jongbloed, H., van, d.G., de Knijff, P., Yamaguchi, N., Hooghiemstra, H., Bauer, H., Henschel, P., White, P.A., Driscoll, C.A., Tende, T., Ottosson, U., Saidu, Y., Vrieling, K. & de Iongh, H.H. (2016) Phylogeographic Patterns in Africa and High Resolution Delineation of Genetic Clades in the Lion (Panthera leo). Scientific Reports 6, 30807. DOI: 10.1038/srep30807

Rull, V. The ‘Anthropocene’: A requiem for the Geologic Time Scale? Quaternary Geochronology. DOI: 10.1016/j.quageo.2016.08.006

Xu, H., Lan, J., Sheng, E., Liu, Y., Liu, B., Yu, K., Ye, Y., Cheng, P., Qiang, X., Lu, F. & Wang, X. (2016) Tropical/Subtropical Peatland Development and Global CH4 during the Last Glaciation. Scientific Reports 6, 30431. DOI: 10.1038/srep30431

Bush, M.B. & McMichael, C.N.H. (2016) Holocene variability of an Amazonian hyperdominant. Journal of Ecology online. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12600

In the news:

Jonathan Amos (2016) ‘Case is made’ for Anthropogenic Epoch. BBC News: Science & Environment.

Scientific publications:

Sarmiento, F.O. (2002) Anthropogenic change in the landscapes of highland Ecuador. Geographical Review 92, 213-234. doi: 10.1111/j.1931-0846.2002.tb00005.x

Swindles, G.T., Lamentowicz, M., Reczuga, M. & Galloway, J.M. (online)  Palaeoecology of testate amoebae in a tropical peatland. European Journal of Protistology. doi: 10.1016/j.ejop.2015.10.002

Tellkamp, M.P. (2014) Habitat change and trade explain the bird assemblage from the La Chimba archaeological site in the northeastern Andes of Ecuador. Ibis 156, 812-825. doi: 10.1111/ibi.12179

Waters, C.N., Zalasiewicz, J., Summerhayes, C., Barnosky, A.D., Poirier, C., Galuszka, A., Cearreta, A., Edgeworth, M., Ellis, E.C., Ellis, M., Jeandel, C., Leinfelder, R., McNeill, J.R., Richter, D.d., Steffen, W., Syvitski, J., Vidas, D., Wagreich, M., Williams, M., Zhisheng, A., Grinevald, J., Odada, E., Oreskes, N. & Wolfe, A.P. (2016) The Anthropocene is functionally and stratigraphically distinct from the Holocene. Science 351, . doi: 10.1126/science.aad2622

The geology of mankind

April 8, 2014

Adele Julier on:

Malm, A. & Hornborg, A. (2014) The geology of mankind? A critique of the Anthropocene narrative. The Anthropocene Review, 1, 62-69.

Malm and Hornborg’s paper ‘The geology of mankind? A critique of the Anthropocene narrative’ raises some important points about the terminology of climate science and how this not only affects perceptions of who or what is to blame, but also of what can be done to address  it and by who. The main thrust of their argument is that the use of the term Anthropocene distances people from the effects of man-made climate change through the argument that human nature inescapably led to large CO2 emissions and therefore the havoc being wreaked upon ecosystems is essentially inevitable. They go on to discuss that this ignores the fact that a tiny percentage of humanity actually set into motion the huge changes which we are only now beginning to address, that humanity as a whole at no point decided to take this path and that the use of the term Anthropocene is actually counter-productive, in that it removes the onus of solving environmental problems from the small group of humans that actually caused them, instead spreading it out so thinly that it loses its power.

The argument that Anthropocene is perhaps not the best term to use for the present situation is persuasive, but the idea that it apportions blame too widely does not take into consideration the fact that developing countries are now largely following in the footsteps of developed countries in terms of both habitat destruction and carbon emissions. Although all of humanity may not have started global change, the practices initiated by the few are now being endlessly replicated. The reasons behind this are economic; currently, and largely in the short term, it pays countries and large corporations to continue unsustainable practices. They ignore pressure to change if it undermines economic growth or affects profit margins, not because they do not think they are part of the problem. Academics could choose to call this the ‘Anthropocene’ the ‘OnePercentocene’ or the ‘ThisIsYourFault,Sir,Yes,YouInTheGreySuit,StopPlayingWithYour PhoneAndListen-ocene’, but it will not make the slightest difference until these basic problems are addressed.

Problem solving in the Anthropocene

April 3, 2014

DSCN3814William Gosling on:

Barnosky, A.D. & Hadly, E.A. (2014) Problem solving in the Anthropocene. The Anthropocene Review, 1, 76-77.

The short communication by Barnosky & Hadly examines the current fundamental environmental ‘problem’ for human populations  through the lens of the “Anthropocene” concept, i.e. will some human populations:

  1. continue to develop using a “business as usual” model that has been shown to elevate environmental risk to all human populations, or
  2. alter societal practice in an attempt to reduce the environmental risks now and for future generations.

Barnosky & Hadly straightforwardly and succinctly present the case that, based on the weight of evidence from the collective scientific endeavour of the global community, humans are now fundamental altering the functioning of planet Earth; a view further supported by the recently published Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report (IPCC, 2014).Throughout the period of anatomically modern human existence (Homo sapiens sapiens, the last c. 200,000 years) populations have experienced a variety of environmental changes. Exposure to environmental change has had both positive and negative impacts on societal development (e.g. Gosling & Williams, 2013; Hodell et al., 1995).

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