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Geophysical Monograph Series



  • archaeology
  • biomass burning
  • agriculture
  • policy
  • ethnography
  • resilience

Index Terms

  • 0402 Biogeosciences: Agricultural systems
  • 0410 Biogeosciences: Biodiversity
  • 0429 Biogeosciences: Climate dynamics
  • 0428 Biogeosciences: Carbon cycling



Hunter-Gatherers, Agriculturalists, and Climate: Insights From a Cross-Disciplinary Review

D. M. Cadzow

Archaeologists have been studying human-caused environmental impacts for decades. Most studies have examined major sites or civilizations, often with a focus on their collapse or reactions to environmental crises. Evidence emerging from numerous disciplines suggests it was the aggregated efforts of hunter-gatherers and agriculturalists that also created some of humanity's greatest environmental impacts. This paper addresses two paths by which these impacts can manifest: agriculture/forest management and biomass burning. This conclusion can be provocative for those who value indigenous populations as benign ecological stewards. However, many of these impacts cannot be neatly classified as negative or positive. Some human-caused disturbances, for example, have helped to preserve threatened species, fostered biodiversity, and increased the resilience of socioecological systems. To increase our knowledge of our collective human heritage and better support indigenous and western decision making, additional cross-disciplinary research on how hunter-gathers and agriculturalists influence socioecological systems is needed. This will require the convergence of data, insights, and theory from many disciplines.

Citation: Cadzow, D. M. (2012), Hunter-gatherers, agriculturalists, and climate: Insights from a cross-disciplinary review, in Climates, Landscapes, and Civilizations, Geophys. Monogr. Ser., vol. 198, edited by L. Giosan et al., 209–216, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/2012GM001210.

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