Columbus’ footprint in Hispaniola

May 30, 2018

Open access for 50 days with this link:

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).

Continue Reading

Anthropogenic climate change and the nature of Earth System science

April 2, 2014

Core teddyFrazer Bird on:

Oldfield, F., Steffen, W. 2014. Anthropogenic climate change and the nature of Earth System Science. The Anthropocene Review,1, 70-75.

This paper is a very interesting read for anyone working in the field of palaeoecology. It briefly discusses some of the key criticism of earth systems science research and demonstrates how a good understanding of our past is critical to our future projections.

 “Nature of the Science”

Often Earth System Science is described as being “fuzzy”. It doesn’t always fit the model Popperian approach to science whereby refutable hypothesis are defined and tested. The authors point out however that this is somewhat an unfair criticism. The Earth system is complex, non-linear and often there are no cause-consequence relationships. The scientific method involved is much more complex and often we are trying to understand phenomena that occur over immense timescales. To demonstrate this a little further the authors use the example of freshwater acidification.

“By choosing a variety of field-based case studies with or without key characteristics, each of which was a putative cause of acidification, it proved possible to isolate past variables such as land-use change or catchment afforestation and thereby home in on the only remaining hypothesis not rejected by the evidence, namely the dissemination of industrially generated SO2.”

Rather than testing and refuting or accepting whether industrial generated S02 was causing acidification, cumulative research showed it to be the universal variable across multiple examples. Often when we make inferences about environmental change we have multiple working hypotheses which stand until more and more evidence arises to support one over the others.

 “Toward Projective science”

Projecting the future consequences of climate change is of vital importance for society and critical to policy and mitigation strategies. Climate models are really the only tools at our disposal in trying to understand future scenarios. However models alone cannot provide us with all the answers, the paper demonstrates that the only evidence we ever have is from the past.

“All the evidence we have regarding environmental change comes from the past, whether of the previous few seconds as changes are logged continuously, or of the more remote past revealed through the study of environmental archives.”

If we want to refine our models and have better projections in the future then these tools must have the ability to capture the empirical evidence we have from the past. Future projections are based on data-model comparisons; this is an interactive relationship that is ever refined as each side gains in knowledge and skills.


The Anthropocene: A governance perspective

March 31, 2014

EarthSystemGovernanceNick Loughlin on:

Biermann, F. (2014) The Anthropocene: A governance perspective. The Anthropocene Review, 1, 57-61.

This comment piece looks at the Anthropocene as a political construct and a tool to constrain the concept of ‘Earth System Governance’ within the social sciences. To quote the author ‘the Anthropocene is political’ and this is indeed the case when attempting to organise disparate and often conflicting bodies into a global community that can guide society to a way of working within nature, but it is also a biological, ecological and geological term and as such a scientific rational to understanding our Anthropocene is required not just a political one.

The writer succinctly demonstrates the interdependence of countries, social groups and global organisations within the modern era along with the intergenerational aspect of a range of social and environmental issues. However it places the Anthropocene as a marketing tool targeted at a political audience rather than a scientific term that denotes a currently unverified chronostratigraphic unit.

It is in no doubt that humans are a significant driving force behind changes to the biosphere and the concept of ‘Earth System Governance’ as described within this paper demonstrates the wide ranging global issues that require consensus.

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