Focus 4 - Themes

To address the Focus 4 goals, these topical themes were developed:


This theme aimed to synthesize long-term records that could provide information on: drivers of biodiversity change; determination of baselines and natural ecosystem variability; biodiversity thresholds and resilience; migrations, invasions and extinctions; conservation of cultural landscapes; and wilderness conservation.

Working group

> Focus 4 - Biodiversity

Land Use and Cover

Climate modelers increasingly focus on processes governing changes in the land surface and their coupling to the atmosphere. Thus, there was a growing need for past land use/cover records at global- to continental/regional-scales (e.g. Dearing et al. 2006b; Denman et al. 2007). The major goal of this theme was to produce land-cover records based on fossil pollen records for the last 11.5 kyr.

Working groups

> LandCover6k
> Focus 4 - Land Use and Cover
> HITE (Human Impacts on Terrestrial Ecosystems)

Regional Integration

There is a need to understand how society and the environment have evolved over multi-decadal timescales to create modern landscapes. This can be achieved through integrating instrument, document, paleoenvironmental and archaeology records within regions to produce ‘socio-environmental profiles’. Such profiles are especially important to the development of policies and strategies in regions where successful management of key environmental processes, ecological services and their interaction is critical.

Working group

> Focus 4 - Regional Integration

Soil and Sediment

Sediment archives (alluvial, colluvial, limnic) provide records of changing soil erosion and the transport/deposition of sediment by fluvial processes. The degree of soil erosion and the extent and volume of sedimentary deposits provide information on the nature and timing of past human impacts, and the impact of environmental variability (particularly climate) on human society (e.g. Brown 2002; Dearing and Jones 2003; Gregory et al. 2006; Wasson 1994).

Working groups

> GloSS (Global Soil and Sediment transfers in the Anthropocene)
> Focus 4 - Soil and Sediment


Studies of changes in past water quality and quantities have been essential in identifying the trajectory of change and establishing the range of natural variation that existed prior to intense human modifications of catchments, notably through studies of lake acidification and eutrophication. Such approaches have the capacity to quantify natural baseline conditions, identify drivers and rates of past change and to assess the degree of departure from baseline on a broad range of contexts (Bennion and Battarbee 2007).

Working groups

> Aquatic Transitions
> Focus 4 - Water
> LIMPACS (Human Impacts on Lake Ecosystems)





Bennion, H. and Battarbee, R., 2007: The European Union Water Framework Directive: opportunities for palaeolimnology, Journal of Paleolimnology, 38: 285-295.
Brown, A.G., 2002: Learning from the past: palaeohydrology and palaeoecology, Freshwater Biology, 47: 817–829.
Dearing, J.A. and Jones, R.T., 2003: Coupling temporal and spatial dimensions of global sediment flux through lake and marine sediment records, Global and Planetary Change, 39: 147-168.
Dearing, J.A., Battarbee, R.W., Dikau, R., Larocque, I. and Oldfield, F., 2006b: Human-environment interactions: towards synthesis and simulation, Regional Environmental Change, 6: 1-16. DOI: 10.1007/s10113-005-0012-7
Denman, K.L. et al.,2007 : Couplings between changes in the climate system and biogeochemistry. In: Solomon, S. et al. (Eds) Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 499-587.
Downing, J.A., Cole, J.J., Middelburg, J.J., Striegl, R.G., Duarte, C.M., Kortelainen, P., Prairie, Y.T. and Laube, K.A., 2008: Sediment organic carbon burial in agriculturally eutrophic impoundments over the last century, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 22: GB1018, doi:10.1029/2006GB002854
Giorgi, F., 2006: Climate change hot-spots, Geophysical Research Letters, 33: L08707. Doi:10.1029/2006GL025734
Gregory, K.J. et al., 2006: Past hydrological events and global change, Hydrological Processes, 20: 199-204.
Kortelainen, P., Pajunen, H., Rantakari, M. and Saarnisto, M., 2004: A large carbon pool and small sink in boreal Holocene lake sediments, Global Change Biology, 10: 1648–1653.
Wasson, R.J., 1994: Living with the past: uses of history for understanding landscape change and degradation, Land Degradation and Rehabilitation, 5: 79-87