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MACRO: Molecular traces of Anthropogenic and Climatic impact in Remote Oceania

Applicant Dubois Nathalie
Number 163782
Funding scheme SNSF Professorships
Research institution Geologisches Institut ETH Zürich
Institution of higher education ETH Zurich - ETHZ
Main discipline Other disciplines of Earth Sciences
Start/End 01.10.2016 - 31.07.2022
Approved amount 1'663'541.00
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Keywords (8)

Remote Oceania; paleoclimatology; early human impact; organic geochemistry; hydrogen isotopes; compound-specific radiocarbon; soil erosion; biomarkers

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
L’agriculture - qui a émergé en plusieurs endroits du globe quasi-simultanément au milieu de l’Holocène - a depuis transformé plus du tiers de la surface terrestre. Cette transition d’une société nomade à une société sédentaire est désormais relativement bien définie en Europe, mais l‘est nettement moins ailleurs ou le modèle classique de transition Européen ne s’applique guère. Dans le cadre du projet MACRO, nous allons analyser des sédiments de lacs et marais provenant d’îles du Pacifique afin d’établir l’impact environnemental qu’ont eues les premières sociétés à s’établir sur ces îles isolées.
Lay summary

Traces moléculaires des impacts humains et climatiques en Océanie lointaine

Contenu et objectifs du travail de recherche

L‘arrivée et l’étendue des impacts humains sur les écosystèmes de ces îles jusqu’alors inhabitées est débattu depuis de longues années. En effet, d’importants changements climatiques se sont produits au moment de la colonisation de ces îles au milieu et à la fin de l’Holocène. Notre principal objectif est de différencier les effets climatiques des effets anthropiques dans la formation des paysages culturels de ces îles au moyen de molécules fossiles et de leur composition isotopique.

L’arrivée des humains sera documentée au moyen de biomarqueurs fécaux et de biomarqueurs spécifiques aux plantes nouvellement introduites. La dégradation des sols liée à l’évolution culturelle sera retracée au moyen de mesures de radiocarbone sur composés spécifiques. Les variations de la pluviosité seront reconstruites au moyen de la composition isotopique de l’hydrogène contenu dans des molécules fossiles d’origine végétale.

Contexte scientifique et social du projet de recherche

Les îles représentent des mésocosmes idéaux pour étudier certains processus difficile à adresser à une échelle planétaire tels que les changements d’utilisation des sols et les pertes par érosion de sol arable. Ces dernières seraient désormais d’un ordre de grandeur plus élevé que leur taux de formation, représentant une sérieuse menace pour notre avenir.

En comparant plusieurs îles ayant des trajectoires environnementales distinctes et sous l’emprise d’influences climatiques diverses, le projet MACRO va contribuer à clarifier les interactions proches entre humains, climat et environnent dans la formation d’une société durable. L’approche inédite que nous allons prendre permet une évaluation simultanée des changements paléoclimatiques et paléoenvironnementaux.

 

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 13.05.2016

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Palmitone as a potential species-specific biomarker for the crop plant taro (Colocasia esculenta Schott) on remote Pacific islands
Krentscher Christiane, Dubois Nathalie, Camperio Giorgia, Prebble Matthew, Ladd S. Nemiah (2019), Palmitone as a potential species-specific biomarker for the crop plant taro (Colocasia esculenta Schott) on remote Pacific islands, in Organic Geochemistry, 132, 1-10.

Datasets

Data Set for Krentscher et al. "Palmitone as a species-specific biomarker for the crop plant taro (Colocasia esculenta Schott.) on remote Pacific islands"

Author Krentscher, Christiane
Publication date 09.11.2018
Persistent Identifier (PID) https://doi.org/10.3929/ethz-b-000294165
Repository ETH Zürich Research Collection


Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Climate Change Institute/ANU Australia (Oceania)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Biogeochemistry/Eawag Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Ion Beam Physics/ETH Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
School of Oceanography/UW United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Prof. Paul Augustinus New Zealand (Oceania)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Limnogeology Lab/ETH Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Stable Isotope/Eawag Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Biogeosciences/ETH Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Women in Aquatic Sciences Networking Event Poster Using lake sediment cores to trace environmental changes in remote Pacific islands 30.09.2019 Constance, Germany Camperio Ciani Giorgia;
INQUA Poster Disentangling climate and human factors in the settlement of the Maori in the North Island of New Zealand 25.07.2019 Dublin, Ireland Lloren Ronald Bernas;
INQUA Poster Palmitone as a species-specific biomarker for the crop plant taro (Colocasia esculenta Schott.) on remote Pacific island 25.07.2019 Dublin, Ireland Ladd Sarah Nemiah; Camperio Ciani Giorgia; Dubois Nathalie;
INQUA Talk given at a conference Tracing environmental changes in the Pacific island of Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu 25.07.2019 Dublin, Ireland Ladd Sarah Nemiah;
INQUA Talk given at a conference Tracing anthropogenic changes in the Pacific Islands of Vanuatu 25.07.2019 Dublin, Ireland Camperio Ciani Giorgia;
INQUA Talk given at a conference Tracking human arrival in North Island, New Zealand using fecal sterols and leaf wax data: An Implication of Pre-Maori arrival 25.07.2019 Dublin, Ireland Lloren Ronald Bernas;
SwissSed Talk given at a conference Tracking our ancestors legacy in lake sediments 23.02.2019 Fribourg, Switzerland Dubois Nathalie;
Gordon Research Conference Poster Lipid biomarkers of past agricultural activity in Remote Oceania 29.07.2018 Holderness, United States of America Ladd Sarah Nemiah;
4ème Réunion Annuelle des Géochimistes Organiciens Français Talk given at a conference Fossil biomarkers in Remote Oceania: An Example of Ecosystem Tracing on the Island of Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu 10.07.2018 Lyon, France Dubois Nathalie;
International Paleolimnology Symposium Poster Maori’s arrival in North Island, New Zealand: Does the archaeological evidence match with the sediment archive? 18.06.2018 Stockholm, Sweden Lloren Ronald Bernas;
International Paleolimnology Symposium Poster Tracing anthropogenic changes in the Pacific Islands of Vanuatu 18.06.2018 Stockholm, Sweden Dubois Nathalie; Camperio Ciani Giorgia;
International Paleolimnology Symposium Talk given at a conference ate Holocene precipitation changes from terrestrial and aquatic biomarkers in freshwater lake sediments in Vanuatu, nternational Paleolimnology Symposium 18.06.2018 Stockholm, Sweden Ladd Sarah Nemiah;
International Paleolimnology Symposium Poster Palmitone as a biomarker for the agricultural plant Colocasia esculenta 18.06.2018 Stockholm, Sweden Ladd Sarah Nemiah; Dubois Nathalie;
Swiss Sedimentologists Meeting Poster Tracing Past Ecosystem Modification in the Pacific Islands of Vanuatu 24.02.2018 Fribourg, Switzerland Camperio Ciani Giorgia; Dubois Nathalie;
Swiss Sedimentologists Meeting Poster Tracking the Maoris: fecal sterols as tracers of changes in paleoagropastoral activities around Lake Pupuke 24.02.2018 Fribourg, Switzerland Dubois Nathalie; Lloren Ronald Bernas;
Swiss Geoscience Meeting Talk given at a conference Molecular biomarkers of anthropic impacts in natural archives 19.11.2016 Genève, Switzerland Camperio Ciani Giorgia; Dubois Nathalie;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: print media, online media Lake Sediments Unlock the Past Scientia International 2018
Media relations: print media, online media Reise wie zu Darwins Zeiten Tages Anzeiger German-speaking Switzerland 2018
Talks/events/exhibitions Auf den Spuren der Polynesier German-speaking Switzerland 2017

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
160066 Paleolimnological tracers of early farming impacts on soil degradation and lakes 01.10.2015 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

The MACRO project will use novel molecular isotopic approaches to disentangle the climatic and anthropogenic effects in shaping cultural landscapes on remote Pacific Islands. The timing and extent of human impact on previously unoccupied island ecosystems of Remote Oceania has long been debated, as sizable changes in climate occurred at the time of human colonization in the mid-late Holocene. Islands represent ideal microcosms to study processes that are relevant in the current context of global changes but difficult to address on a planetary scale such as changes in land-use and soil loss.Through the multi-proxy analysis of lakes and swamps sediment cores, the MACRO project will provide combined paleoclimatic and paleoenvironmental reconstructions. Organic fossil molecules (biomarkers) will be at the center of these investigations. The arrival of humans and subsequent evolution of population size will be documented by variations in coprostanol (faecal biomarker) and bile acid. New biomarkers will be developed to trace the introduction of allochthonous cultivars such as taro or sweet potato. The main innovative approach of MACRO will be the use of compound-specific radiocarbon as a tool to assess soil degradation accompanying the cultural evolution. The age of terrestrial biomarkers deposited in sedimentary basins, which provide information on soil carbon cycling in the catchment, will be combined with conventional indicators of soil erosion to evaluate prehistoric human impacts on soils (e.g. pollen, trace elements, charcoal). Past variations in rainfall intensity - the most prominent climate variable in this region - will be reconstructed from the hydrogen and carbon isotopic composition of aquatic and terrestrial plant lipids. The impact of rainfall and cyclones on soils will be assessed in pre-settlement sediments. By comparing several islands with diverse environmental trajectories and under distinct climatic influences, the MACRO project will contribute to the clarifying the tight interplay between human, climate and the environment in forming a sustainable society.
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