TalkKeynote speaker
A large number of paleoecological records in the northern Andes of Ecuador and Colombia have provided a comprehensive understanding of the response of vegetation to past climates at different time scales. However, despite this area comprises more than 20 active volcanoes that have shaped landscapes and human societies for millennia, the impacts of volcanism on terrestrial ecosystems have been rarely addressed by paleoecologists in the region. Here, we illustrate how plants act as paleoclimatic archives that record and preserve information from past volcanic eruptions. Individual plants register in their tissue signatures of time, temperature, climatic variability, neighborhood, and other environmental conditions. On the other hand, plant communities may record successional trajectories, diversity patterns, networks of interactions, and connections with human societies. The time domains of some of these processes demand for integration of methodologies that allow disentangling short-lived events (months-years), intermediate variabilities (decades), and long-term trajectories (centuries). In our case, we propose a methodology to reconstruct successional pathways on volcanic substrates that is based on local knowledge, observational descriptions, and vegetation plots. This integrative view might serve to interpret palaeoeocological records in similar volcanic settings helping to reveal “hidden eruptions” that are not conspicuous in the geological record. Furthermore, we explore the tensions between these geological and ecological forces through mixed artistic media that accompany and enrich the scientific approach. Concepts such as time, ecological succession, resilience, and recovery hinge between the artistic and the scientific languages, acting as articulation elements between human perception and natural legacies.
Catalina González Arango is an associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá, and currently leads the research group in Tropical Paleoecology and Palynology (PALEO). With over 15 years of experience, her research seeks to understand the long-term paleoecological and paleoclimatic history of tropical ecosystems from Northern South America due to the interactions among human societies, climate changes, and geologic processes. During the last decade, Catalina has explored the ecological aspects of complexity in volcanic socio-ecological systems by applying traditional paleoecological approaches to address the resilience of Andean forests after disturbance and to establish relationships between geodiversity, biodiversity, and cultural diversity in this dynamic and heterogeneous region. More recently, she has started to take on alternative artistic media to elaborate and communicate the disentangling of memories and the recovery of landscapes after volcanic eruptions.
The scale and antiquity of human impact on Amazonia is one of the most debated topics in archaeology and paleoecology. To address this issue, we implement an interdisciplinary approach to investigate climate-human-ecosystem interactions in the Amazon rainforest ecotone (ARE) of SE Amazonia. AREs are transitional landscapes between the tropical forest and the seasonally flooded savannas of the Llanos de Moxos. They are hotspots for biodiversity and harbor some of the earliest records of human occupation and plant domestication in Amazonia. There is increasing evidence that pre-Columbian land use and fire management strategies shaped Amazonian landscapes, particularly during periods of increased climate variability. To examine long-term human-environment dynamics in the ARE, we combine archaeology, archaeobotany, palaeoecology, and palaeoclimatology around Laguna Versalles in the Iténez Forest Reserve, Bolivia. Pollen and charcoal data indicate polycrop cultivation of Maize and Ipomoea and fire management after ca. 4500 cal yr BP. Phytolith data from archaeological soil profiles indicate Maize and Manihot cultivation predated the formation of ADE soils ~2400 cal yr BP. A new ceramic chronology identifies three phases, demonstrating the dynamic cultural history of the region. The first ceramic phase is synchronous with Amazonian Dark Earth (ADE) soil formation, while the construction of ditch and embankments, known as zanjas, and a double-ditch ring village, during the final ceramic phase, mark an increasing demand for fortification, consistent with a pattern that is found across Amazonia during this time period. Settlement fortification is synchronous with the abandonment of crop cultivation around the lake and an intensification of crop cultivation in the enclosed ADE sites. Regional palaeoclimate records indicate increased variability in precipitation that may have contributed to increased social conflict. The data suggest polyculture agroforesty, created resilient subsistence strategies that persisted despite pronounced climate variability and social conflict in the region.
Dr. Yoshi Maezumi is a Palaeoecologist and Archaeologist specializing in the influence of past human land use, cultural burning, and fire management in modern ecosystems. Dr Maezumi earned a Double Bachelor degree from UC San Diego in Anthropological Archaeology and Religious Studies in 2006, a Masters Degree in Analytical Archaeology from CSU Long Beach in 2010, and a PhD from the University of Utah in Physical Geography (concentration in Palaeoecology) in 2015. Her dissertation focused on Climate, vegetation, and fire dynamics in the Amazon. During her post-doctoral research at the University of Exeter in England, she developed an integrated approach to investigate the legacy of pre-Columbian land use, fire management and plant domestication in the Amazon rainforest. Maezumi then spent a year lecturing at the University of the West Indies Mona in Jamaica on Climate Change in 2018. In 2019 she awarded a Marie Curie Fellowship Project FIRE: Fire Intensity in Rainforest Ecotones, which examined the role of natural and anthropogenic fire in shaping rainforest-savanna ecotones in the Amazon and Caribbean islands. Dr. Maezumi is currently the Group Leader of Palaeoecology at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany. Her research has been published in high-impact journals including Science, Nature Plants, Nature Ecology and Evolution, Scientific Reports and Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution and aims to integrate insights from ancient land use to inform modern management policies for sustainable futures in tropical ecosystems.
Previous evidence along the coast of Peru and central-north coast of Chile suggests that wide variations in sea surface temperature (SST) over the Holocene may be associated with changes in coastal upwelling regimes along the region. Ways people interact with nearshore natural resources also vary along the Peruvian-Chilean coast and may be associated with fluctuations in coastal oceanographic conditions, as well as with transformations in local socio-economic contexts. Using a 12 kyr record derived from shell midden archaeological sites located around the 31° Latitude South, we observe changes in nearshore paleoceanographic conditions, together with variability in the way people engaged with their environment and resources. Through records of shellfish use by past coastal societies, and carbonate shells of archaeological mollusk shells we record fluctuations in SST and δ13C values and diversity and abundance of collected species along 10000 years. Fluctuating scenarios throughout the Holocene let us explore human-environment dynamics. Our long-term record gives light about the socio-ecological dynamics at the central-north coast of Chile (31°S) and the use of archaeological marine shells prove to be a powerful proxy for human trajectories and oceanographic conditions along the shore of the Humboldt Current System.
Carola is an archaeologist specialized in archaeo-malacological analysis and human collection strategies. She subsequently has explored, through her postgraduate studies, new tools to study human-environment interactions and how they influenced human adaptation strategies. Based on this background, her research has aimed to reconstruct the environmental and socioeconomic contexts of the human societies that have inhabited the Pacific coast of America.