CE03 - Interactions Humains-Environnement


Submission summary

The California coast is a worldwide biodiversity hotspot with a long and rich history of prehistoric and colonial migration, contacts and peopling processes. However, little is still known about the role that these processes played in the configuration of Californian landscapes over time. MeSCAL is designed to fill in this gap in current research by examining the role that past cultural interactions and human mobility played in the configuration of Southern California (SoCal) landscapes during the last 4000 years. Main goals are to analyse the spatial distribution of land-uses and plants following migratory and colonial processes, and to assess their impact into native terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, particularly in terms of floristic richness, landscape structure, and impact on native flora, wetlands and soilscapes. This ambitious interdisciplinary project proposes a novel approach based on the coupling of 1) high temporal resolution multi-proxy palaeoenvironmental analyses –i.e. pollen, non-pollen palynomorphs (NPP), fire history analysis, diatoms, sedimentology, geochemistry- in continental wetlands and marine records, respectively providing local and regional information on vegetation and land-use changes and their impact in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems; 2) calibration of fossil palaeoenvironmental datasets with modern pollen and NPPs analogues of vegetation and land-uses; 3) archaeobotanical analyses furnishing direct information on past consumption and use of plants in relation to migratory and colonial processes; and 4) coupling of paleoenvironmental results with archaeo-historical and ethnographic datasets to gauge landscape changes following prehistoric and colonial settling. Selected study areas are located in coastal (San Diego city and Santa Barbara region) and nearby backcountry (San Emigdio Hills, Kern County) areas. This transect of records will allow us to track differences in landscape changes following colonial settling between coastal areas under direct colonial control and hinterland areas exposed to a lesser colonial influence that may have served as refuge for native populations and landscapes. MeSCAL will contribute to a better understanding of the long-term shaping of SoCal Mediterranean landscape heritages, identities and cultures, and will provide Californian societies and land-management agencies with important historical and cultural information on their landscapes and wetlands that can help promote culturally conscious and sustainable landscape management tools and mitigate current degradation and over-exploitation of SoCal landscapes and wetlands. It will also provide local SoCal Native tribes with historical information on their ancestral landscapes and traditional land-uses that will enrich their cultural identities and help to protect their landscape heritage and traditional lifeways. MeSCAL will surely be a springboard for the candidate’s young career as it will 1) broaden her competences as project manager; 2) help her build an international network of palaeoenvionmentalists and archaeologists working on a ground breaking research topic; 3) foster her visibility at the national and the international spheres; and 4) consolidate her scientific independence.

Project coordinator

Madame Ana Ejarque Montolio (Institut des Sciences de l'Evolution de Montpellier)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


ISEM Institut des Sciences de l'Evolution de Montpellier

Help of the ANR 257,528 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: August 2021 - 48 Months

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