Climate change facilitated the early colonization of the Azores Archipelago during medieval times

Raposeiro, Pedro M.; Hernández, Armand; Pla-Rabes, Sergi; Gonçalves, Vítor; Bao, Roberto; Sáez, Alberto; Shanahan, Timothy; Benavente, Mario; de Boer, Erik J.; Richter, Nora; Gordon, Verónica; Marques, Helena; Sousa, Pedro M.; Souto, Martín; Matias, Miguel G.; Aguiar, Nicole; Pereira, Cátia; Ritter, Catarina; Rubio, María Jesús; Salcedo, Marina; ... (2021). Climate change facilitated the early colonization of the Azores Archipelago during medieval times. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America - PNAS, 118(41), e2108236118. National Academy of Sciences NAS 10.1073/pnas.2108236118

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Humans have made such dramatic and permanent changes to Earth's landscapes that much of it is now substantially and irreversibly altered from its preanthropogenic state. Remote islands, until recently isolated from humans, offer insights into how these landscapes evolved in response to human-induced perturbations. However, little is known about when and how remote systems were colonized because archaeological data and historical records are scarce and incomplete. Here, we use a multiproxy approach to reconstruct the initial colonization and subsequent environmental impacts on the Azores Archipelago. Our reconstructions provide unambiguous evidence for widespread human disturbance of this archipelago starting between 700-60+50 and 850-60+60 Common Era (CE), ca. 700 y earlier than historical records suggest the onset of Portuguese settlement of the islands. Settlement proceeded in three phases, during which human pressure on the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems grew steadily (i.e., through livestock introductions, logging, and fire), resulting in irreversible changes. Our climate models suggest that the initial colonization at the end of the early Middle Ages (500 to 900 CE) occurred in conjunction with anomalous northeasterly winds and warmer Northern Hemisphere temperatures. These climate conditions likely inhibited exploration from southern Europe and facilitated human settlers from the northeast Atlantic. These results are consistent with recent archaeological and genetic data suggesting that the Norse were most likely the earliest settlers on the islands.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)
10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Palaeoecology

UniBE Contributor:

van Leeuwen, Jacqueline Francisca

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

ISSN:

0027-8424

Publisher:

National Academy of Sciences NAS

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

18 Nov 2021 15:26

Last Modified:

18 Nov 2021 15:26

Publisher DOI:

10.1073/pnas.2108236118

PubMed ID:

34607952

Uncontrolled Keywords:

paleolimnology; island colonization; biomarkers; climate simulations; ecosystem disruption

BORIS DOI:

10.48350/160686

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/160686

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