Nascimento, M.N., Heijink, B.M., Bush, M.B., Gosling, W.D. & McMichael, C.N.H. (2022) Early to mid-Holocene human activity exerted gradual influences on Amazonian forest vegetation. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 377, 20200498. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2020.0498
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.
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.
The Science in Archaeology 2 course, run as part of the minor in “Archaeology Today” by the Amsterdam Centre for Ancient Studies and Archaeology (ACASA), is currently underway. This year I have again contributed to this course with a weeks worth of activity related to detecting past human impacts. During this week we have focused on what sorts of evidence contained within the sedimentary record can be used to track human actions. We focused in particular on the manipulation of fire regimes and the the abundance of animals in landscapes (i.e. extinctions vs. introductions of domestic species). To illustrate how past human activities can be detected in landscapes I tapped into some recent publications I have been involved with (eastern Andean flank, Samoa and Mauritius) and the students selected papers in line with their own focus to discuss. Here is what they came up with…
Gomes, V.H.F., Mayle, F.E., Gosling, W.D., Vieira, I.C.G., Salomão, R.P. & ter Steege, H. (2020) Modelling the distribution of Amazonian tree species in response to long-term climate change during the Mid-Late Holocene. Journal of Biogeography DOI: 10.1111/jbi.13833
Gosling, W.D., Sear, D.A., Hassall, J.D., Langdon, P.G., Bönnen, M.N.T., Driessen, T.D., van Kemenade, Z.R., Noort, K., Leng, M.J., Croudace, I.W., Bourne, A.J. & McMichael, C.N.H. (2020) Human occupation and ecosystem change on Upolu (Samoa) during the Holocene. Journal of Biogeography DOI: 10.1111/jbi.13783
Note: Co-authors Bönnen, Driessen, van Kemenade, and Noort all contributed to this work as part of the research projects related to their MSc or BSc degrees within the Department of Ecosystem & Landscape Dynamics at the University of Amsterdam.
Mark Bush and I are proud to announce that a tribute to Prof. Daniel Livingston and Prof. Paul Colinvaux has recently been published in Quaternary Research. Dan and Paul were both pioneers of tropical pal(a)eoecology and both died in the spring of 2016 . To mark their passing Mark and I have guest edited ten new papers on palaeoecology drawn from researchers, and regions, of the tropics in which Dan and Paul worked (Bush & Gosling, 2018). We would like to thank Quaternary Research Senior Editor Derek Booth for giving us this opportunity and assisting greatly in the process of compiling the manuscripts. We would also like to thank all to contributing authors for their hard work and dedication to the project. We hope that you will enjoy reading the manuscripts and find them a fitting tribute to the life and work of these two great researchers.