Adaptive Capacity of Prehistoric Coastal Communities to Environmental Changes

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2020) | Viewed by 4711

Special Issue Editors

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Guest Editor
1. IPHES, Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social, Tarragona, Spain
2. Àrea de Prehistòria, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain
Interests: sediment archive; geomorphology; human-environment interaction; Holocene

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Guest Editor
CNRS, Centre de Recherche en Archéologie Archéosciences Histoire, Université de Rennes, 35000 Rennes, France
Interests: costal archaeology; human-environment interaction; marine invertebrates; Holocene

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Guest Editor
1. ICREA, Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies, 08010 Barcelona, Spain
2. Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolucio Social (IPHES), Zona Educacional 4, Campus Sescelades URV, edifici W3, 43007 Tarragona, Spain
3. URV, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Facultat de Lletres, Avinguda Catalunya, 35, 43002 Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain
Interests: pollen analysis; climate change; human-environment interaction; Pleistocene; Holocene

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to invite you to contribute to this Special Issue that aims to decipher the adaptive capacity of prehistoric coastal communities to the effect of the sea-level change and related phenomena.

Past socio-ecological adaptation to sea-level rise has emerged as a key field of study to investigate the sensitivity of human systems to global climate changes. Indeed, following the last glaciation, the melting of ice sheets induced a rapid sea-level rise, drastically modifying the configuration of coastal areas. The consequences of this sea-level rise not only consisted of changes in the territory occupied by prehistoric communities, but also induced changes in the availability of environmental resources, which could have had threatened the adaptive capacity of coastal human communities. By gathering case studies on this topic, this Special Issue aims to improve our understanding of the modality and rhythm of socio-ecological responses to sea-level rise, which is of major importance in the current context of global environmental changes.

We thus encourage the submission of original manuscripts that contribute to better understanding past human–environment feedbacks in coastal areas.

Dr. Elodie Brisset
Dr. Catherine Dupont
Dr. Francesc Burjachs
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at 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 submissions that pass pre-check are 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) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). 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.


  • archaeology
  • socio-ecological interaction
  • exploitation strategy
  • environmental resources
  • sea-level change
  • climate change

Published Papers (1 paper)

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22 pages, 3740 KiB  
Socio-Ecological Contingencies with Climate Changes over the Prehistory in the Mediterranean Iberia
by Elodie Brisset, Jordi Revelles, Isabel Expósito, Joan Bernabeu Aubán and Francesc Burjachs
Quaternary 2020, 3(3), 19; - 7 Jul 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 4254
We conducted palynological, sedimentological, and chronological analyses of a coastal sediment sequence to investigate landscape evolution and agropastoral practices in the Nao Cap region (Spain, Western Mediterranean) since the Holocene. The results allowed for a reconstruction of vegetation, fire, and erosion dynamics in [...] Read more.
We conducted palynological, sedimentological, and chronological analyses of a coastal sediment sequence to investigate landscape evolution and agropastoral practices in the Nao Cap region (Spain, Western Mediterranean) since the Holocene. The results allowed for a reconstruction of vegetation, fire, and erosion dynamics in the area, implicating the role of fire in vegetation turnover at 5300 (mesophilous forests replaced by sclerophyllous scrubs) and at 3200 calibrated before present (cal. BP) (more xerophytics). Cereal cultivation was apparent from the beginning of the record, during the Mid-Neolithic period. From 5300 to 3800 cal. BP, long-lasting soil erosion was associated with the presence of cereals, indicating intense land-use during the Chalcolithic and Bronze Age periods. The decline of the agriculture signal and vegetal recolonization is likely explained by land abandonment during the Final Bronze Age. Anthropogenic markers reappeared during the Iberian period when more settlements were present. A contingency of human and environmental agencies was found at 5900, 4200, and 2800 cal. BP, coinciding with abrupt climate events, that have manifested locally in reduced spring discharge, an absence of agropastoral evidence, and a marked decline in settlement densities. This case study, covering five millennia and three climate events, highlights how past climate changes have affected human activities, and also shows that people repeatedly reoccupied the coast once the perturbation was gone. The littoral zone remained attractive for prehistoric communities despite the costs of living in an area exposed to climatic hazards, such as droughts. Full article
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