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Quaternary, Volume 2, Issue 4 (December 2019)

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Open AccessArticle
The Toledo Mountains: A Resilient Landscape and a Landscape for Resilience? Hazards and Strategies in a Mid-Elevation Mountain Region in Central Spain
Quaternary 2019, 2(4), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat2040035 - 18 Oct 2019
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Abstract
The Toledo Mountains are a mid-elevation mountain range that separates the Tagus and Guadiana basins in the central area of the Iberian Peninsula. The location of these mountains allows the development of typical Mediterranean vegetation with some Atlantic influence. Consequently, typical broadleaved evergreen [...] Read more.
The Toledo Mountains are a mid-elevation mountain range that separates the Tagus and Guadiana basins in the central area of the Iberian Peninsula. The location of these mountains allows the development of typical Mediterranean vegetation with some Atlantic influence. Consequently, typical broadleaved evergreen Mediterranean vegetation currently dominates the regional landscape, with the remarkable presence of more mesophilous species in sheltered and more humid microsites such as gorges (e.g., Prunus lusitanica, Taxus baccata, Ilex aquifolium) and mires/bogs (e.g., Betula pendula susbp. fontqueri, Erica tetralix, Myrica gale). Palaeoecological studies in these mountains are essential to understand the long-term ecology and original distribution of these valuable communities and are key to assess their resilience. Understanding the hazards and opportunities faced in the past by the plant communities of the Toledo Mountains is necessary to enhance the management and protection of those species currently threatened. This study focuses on El Perro mire, a peatland on the southern Toledo Mountains (central Spain) where climatic variability has played a major role in landscape dynamics at multi-decadal to millennial timescales. Climatic events such as the 4.2 ka cal. Before Present (BP) or the Little Ice Age triggered relevant landscape changes such as the spread and latter decline of birch and hazel forests. Human communities also seemed to be affected by these events, as their resilience was apparently jeopardized by the new climatic conditions and they were forced to find new strategies to cope with the new scenarios. Full article
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Open AccessReview
The Use of Plant Macrofossils for Paleoenvironmental Reconstructions in Southern European Peatlands
Quaternary 2019, 2(4), 34; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat2040034 - 01 Oct 2019
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Abstract
The analysis of plant macrofossils in peatland ecosystems has been widely used for the climatic and ecological reconstruction of the Holocene in the high latitudes of the northern hemisphere. By contrast, perhaps associated with rarity of these ecosystems, this proxy has barely been [...] Read more.
The analysis of plant macrofossils in peatland ecosystems has been widely used for the climatic and ecological reconstruction of the Holocene in the high latitudes of the northern hemisphere. By contrast, perhaps associated with rarity of these ecosystems, this proxy has barely been explored for southern Europe. In this work, a compilation and review of existing knowledge on the study of plant macrofossils of peatlands in southern Europe has been carried out, both from a paleoenvironmental perspective and in terms of biodiversity dynamics. Although small in surface area, the peatlands of southern Europe stand out for their diversity (botanical, edaphogenic, morphological, etc.), which has allowed the recovery of a large number of macrofossils from both vascular plants and bryophytes. The southern zone of Europe contains refuge zones with a high plant diversity that have not suffered the intense glaciation of the northern zones, this allows a continuous record since the beginning of the Holocene and the detection of climatic events in lower latitudes, where the ice recession was earlier. Full article
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Open AccessCommunication
Sparse Radiocarbon Data Confound Culture-Climate Links in Late Pre-Columbian Amazonia
Quaternary 2019, 2(4), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat2040033 - 27 Sep 2019
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Abstract
It has recently been argued that pre-Columbian societies in the greater Amazon basin during the Late Holocene were subject to “adaptive cycling”. In this model, cultures practicing “intensive” land use practices, such as raised field agriculture, were vulnerable to perturbations in hydroclimate, whereas [...] Read more.
It has recently been argued that pre-Columbian societies in the greater Amazon basin during the Late Holocene were subject to “adaptive cycling”. In this model, cultures practicing “intensive” land use practices, such as raised field agriculture, were vulnerable to perturbations in hydroclimate, whereas “extensive” land use patterns, such as polyculture agroforestry, are viewed as more resilient to climate change. On the basis of radiocarbon data, the relative rise and fall of late pre-Columbian cultures and their inferred patterns of land use in six regions are highlighted to exemplify this model. This paper re-examines the radiocarbon evidence marshalled in favour of adaptive cycling, demonstrating that alleged temporal patterning in these data are overwhelmingly likely due to a combination of sampling effects, lack of statistical controls, and unacknowledged uncertainties that are inherent to radiocarbon dating. The outcome of this combination of factors seriously limits the possibility of cross-referencing archaeological data with palaeo-ecological and -climatological data without controlling for these effects, undermining the central archaeological pillar in support of adaptive cycling in Amazonia. This paper illustrates examples of such mitigation measures and provides the code to replicate them. Suggestions for how to overcome the serious limitations identified in the Late Holocene radiocarbon record of Amazonia are presented in the context of ongoing debates on inferring climatic causation in archaeological and historical datasets. Full article
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