GEOPHYSICAL MONOGRAPH SERIES, VOL. 198, PP. 209-216, 2012
Hunter-Gatherers, Agriculturalists, and Climate: Insights From a Cross-Disciplinary Review
Department of Anthropology, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, USA
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