CE03 - Interactions Humains-Environnement

MOBILITY AND CULTURAL CONTACT IN THE SHAPING OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA LANDSCAPES – MeSCAL

MeSCAL: Mobility & cultural contact in the shaping of Southern CAlifornia Landscapes

MeSCALwill examinethe role that past cultural interactions and human mobility played in the configuration of Southern California landscapes during the last 4000 years.

Objectives

MeSCAL aims to push the frontier of knowledge of the role that past cultural interactions and human mobility played in the configuration of SoCal Late Holocene (~4ky) paleo-landscapes by 1) analysing the spatial distribution of land-uses and plants following migratory and colonial processes, and 2) assessing their impact into native terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, particularly in terms of biodiversity richness, landscape structure, and impact on native flora and wetlands - i.e. expansion of exotic plants, coastal erosion, eutrophication and/or silting up of wetlands. In doing so, this project will contribute to a better understanding of SoCal Mediterranean landscape heritages, identities and cultures and to the promotion of culturally conscious and sustainable management tools that help mitigate current degradation and over-exploitation of SoCal landscapes

MeSCAL will develop a novel approach based on 1) the coupling of high temporal resolution palaeoenvironmental analyses in continental wetlands and marine records providing local and regional information on vegetation and land-use changes and their impact in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, respectively; 2) modern pollen analyses of vegetation and land-uses; 3) archaeopalynological analyses, and 4) archaeo-historical datasets in Southern California. The study covers the last 4 ky in order to track landscape changes following documented Late Holocene increased prehistoric settling, contacts and migrations, as well as historic Euro-American settling. We will analyse small-scale study areas distributed within distinct environmental and historic-cultural settings. This fine-spatial micro-regional approach will allow reconstruction of the local-regional nature of environmental change by also integrating palaeoenvironmental and archaeo-historical datasets [10, 11]. Selected study areas are located in the coast (1=San Diego, 2=Santa Barbara -Ventura [SB/V],) and nearby inland ranges (3=San Emigdio Hills [SEH], Kern County), fig. 1. 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. Together with this fine-spatial approach, we will also combine the study of palaeoenvironmental records and proxies providing more localized and regional palaeoenvironmental information for better assessing the spatial distribution of palaeoenvironmental changes within the studied locations. Following this, we will perform a pioneering palaeoenvironmental study joining small continental wetlands and marine records, respectively providing localized and regional palaeoenvironmental information, to assess local vs regional extend of vegetation changes and land-uses following prehistoric and colonial settling in SoCal. We will also combine proxies providing more regional palaeoenvironmental information – i.e. pollen - with other proxies informing on local changes or land-uses, such as non-pollen palynomorphs, sedimentary charcoal or diatoms

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.

Partner

ISEM Institut des Sciences de l'Evolution de Montpellier
GEOLAB LABORATOIRE DE GÉOGRAPHIE PHYSIQUE ET ENVIRONNEMENTALE

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

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