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Natural and human impact in Mediterranean landscapes: An intriguing puzzle or only a question of time?

By Michela Marignani, A. Chiarucci, L. Sadori and A. M. Mercuri


Time is a key factor to understand the effects of disturbance on natural communities or ecosystems. In Mediterranean landscapes, where nature and humans have been strongly intermingling since mid-Holocene, the relationships between plant ecology and palaeoecology and their role for the interpretation of natural and anthropogenic changes still needs to be clearly understood. Ecology and palaeoecology are both investigating such problems, but each of them cannot disentangle the specific role played by nature and by humans in shaping the present plant communities and landscapes. A new age of cooperation among researchers in ecology and palaeoecology is needed, and the integration of these closely related but separated research fields is necessary to explain the resulting dynamic puzzle. Plant ecologists should avoid the oversimplification of the actual causes as the exclusive drivers of plant communities and landscapes and force the exploitation of the available data to generate and test new hypotheses for past, present and future environmental reconstructions and management. Even when planning for the future biodiversity conservation, we need to properly use the existing information about millennia of human effects on the natural biotas, to properly set landscape management and conservation priorities

Topics: Anthropocene, Global change, Interdisciplinarity, Science oversimplification, Ecology, evolution, behavior and systematics, Plant science
Publisher: 'Informa UK Limited'
Year: 2017
DOI identifier: 10.1080/11263504.2016.1244121
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