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Humans on planet Earth (HOPE)
Humans today have a strong impact on natural ecosystems across the whole of planet Earth. Through habitat destruction, climate change, pollution, over-exploitation, and spreading of non-native species we are affecting biodiversity and ecosystem processes to a large extent. We know much about these modern negative impacts, but we know less about how prehistoric humans affected ecological patterns and processes. It is over 70 years since pollen analysis first demonstrated the influence of prehistoric people on vegetation with forest clearance, 'slash and burn', and cereal cultivation. There are now many hundreds of detailed, dated pollen studies from around the world. These studies provide valuable insights into the spatial extent as well as the timing and duration of human impact episodes. This knowledge is highly relevant for past vegetation estimates for land-cover and climate reconstructions. As a result of the very many pollen-analytical studies, there is now a rich source of long-term data that has the potential to reveal patterns of prehistoric human impact on the composition of past vegetation, the landscape, and the environment as well as for times without human impact.
Important questions that require a historical perspective include
- Did prehistoric human activities fundamentally change the ecological processes of today's ecosystems?
- If they did, is the present a useful baseline for predicting future ecosystem responses in our rapidly changing world?
More information here: https://www.uib.no/en/rg/EECRG/107501/hope