Special Issue "The Human Footprint on Islands - The Ecological Impact of Discovery and Colonization"

A special issue of Quaternary (ISSN 2571-550X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2019

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Erik De Boer

Institute of Earth Sciences Jaume Almera (ICTJA-CSIC), 08028 Barcelona, Spain
Website | E-Mail
Interests: paleoecology and palynology; island biogeography; climate change; human arrival and extinction
Guest Editor
Dr. Lea De Nascimento

Island Ecology and Biogeography Group, University of La Laguna, 38200 La Laguna, Spain
Website | E-Mail
Interests: palaeoecology; island biogeography; plant ecology; human impact; forest dynamics; palaeoenvironmental DNA
Guest Editor
Dr. Jamie Wood

Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, 7608 Lincoln, New Zealand
Website | E-Mail
Interests: ancient DNA; extinctions; human impacts on ecosystems; paleodiets; paleoecology; palynology
Guest Editor
Dr. Sandra Nogué

Geography and Environment, University of Southampton, SO17 1BJ Southampton, UK
Website | E-Mail
Interests: palaeoecology; biogeography

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The discovery and settlement of previously-uninhabited land masses around the world caused dramatic changes to local ecosystems and biotas. These changes were particularly evident on islands, where human settlement usually marked the beginning of a period of habitat destruction and extinctions of local flora and fauna. Although extinctions are perhaps the most widely known impact, they represent only part of the transformation that was set in motion after an island´s settlement. For example, distribution range shifts and extinctions led to the loss of biotic interactions, while new interactions were created following the introduction of invasive species. In the last decade, an increasing number of studies have reported novel and unprecedented anthropogenic pressures on island ecosystems. An improved understanding of the human footprint on islands will provide valuable information for biodiversity conservation.

In this Special Issue, we will study baseline conditions and drivers of ecosystem change on islands prior to human arrival and examine the timing and mode of human settlement to examine subsequent ecological changes. In particular, we are interested in quantitative studies of island ecosystem changes following their initial discovery and settlement. We welcome contributions from a wide range of Quaternary disciplines—preferably interdisciplinary or multi-proxy studies—across different timescales. Examples include ecological baseline studies (e.g., the effects of sea level changes during glacial and interglacial periods on island biotas), resilience or vulnerability of island biotas to natural and anthropogenic climate change, studies on (pre-)historical human land use, and studies on current threats, such as habitat loss and biological invasion.

Dr. Erik de Boer
Dr. Lea de Nascimento
Dr. Jamie Wood
Dr. Sandra Nogué
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Quaternary is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) is waived for well-prepared manuscripts submitted to this issue. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Paleoecology
  • Landscape use and change
  • Early discovery
  • Community dynamics
  • Restoration ecology
  • Fire regime
  • Historical land use

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Revisiting the Foraging Ecology and Extinction History of Two Endemic Vertebrates from Tenerife, Canary Islands
Quaternary 2019, 2(1), 10; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat2010010
Received: 11 January 2019 / Revised: 12 February 2019 / Accepted: 18 February 2019 / Published: 21 February 2019
PDF Full-text (2581 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
We used carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) isotopes to examine the foraging ecology of Tenerife giant rats (Canariomys bravoi) and lizards (Gallotia goliath) in northwestern Tenerife, which until recently, were the island’s largest terrestrial vertebrates. [...] Read more.
We used carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) isotopes to examine the foraging ecology of Tenerife giant rats (Canariomys bravoi) and lizards (Gallotia goliath) in northwestern Tenerife, which until recently, were the island’s largest terrestrial vertebrates. We combined new isotope data for 28 C. bravoi and 14 G. goliath with published regional data for both species and then compared these with data for co-occurring extant taxa and modern C3 plants. Isotope data suggest both extinct species relied primarily on C3 resources and were trophic omnivores. However, the two species appear to have partitioned their resources when living in sympatry. Isotopic overlap between C. bravoi and Rattus spp., and between G. goliath, extant Gallotia galloti, and introduced rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) suggests reliance on similar foods. We radiocarbon dated four C. bravoi and two G. goliath with the most extreme isotope values. These new dates do not settle the question of what triggered the demise of either species. Nevertheless, the data are most consistent with anthropogenically-induced extinction. Temporal isotopic trends contradict expectations if regional climate were responsible, and confidence intervals for radiocarbon dates suggest it is highly likely that both species were present when humans first settled the island. Full article

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