PowerPoint presentation to the Santa Fe Institute, October 2004.
Dramatic changes in land use were associated with the rise of agriculture in the mid Holocene in the Mediterranean region. Both surface properties and drainage networks were changed along with direct modifications to surface properties (vegetation removal and change, sediment liberation and compaction); consequent drainage alteration (terracing, canals) and up and downstream responses in the watersheds communicated these changes throughout the landscape.
The magnitude, rate, and feedbacks with the growing human populations are critical questions in our effort to assess human-landscape interactions. To investigate these relationships, recent field work in the Penaguila Valley of southeast Spain included landform mapping, alluvial deposit description, and sample collection emphasizing areas of active erosion, remnant land surfaces and their relation to archaeological sites.
We have updated our geomorphic maps by refining the delineation of alluvial terraces, steep-walled (40m deep) drainages ("barrancos"), and hollows ("barrancos de fondo plano"). Hollows are curved, elongate, flat-bottomed gullies with steep walls (2-30m tall) and extend headward from the main barrancos. This work enables more accurate terrace correlations necessary for both landscape evolution modeling and interpretation of the development history of the basin.
Alluvial terraces are crucial to this research because they record periods of past stable topography. In the Penaguila, sites dating back to late Mesolithic and early Neolithic (around 6600 BP) and subsequent periods (Chalcolithic and Bronze Age) are exposed on a prominent terrace surface mapped as Terrace A. This broad low relief surface is scarred by deep barrancos and hollow formation that expose bedrock marls and overlying alluvial deposits. Stratigraphic profiles and texture analyses of Terrace A deposits reveal overland flow facies and channel networks in reworked and CaCO3-encrusted marls, and several organic-rich paleosols. Small remnant surfaces mapped as Terrace Z (below Terrace A) were observed within the main barrancos and indicate a later, brief accumulation period with subsequent incision to the modern channel.
Holocene landscape development in the Penaguila appears to have progressed from a period of stability to slope denudation with aggradation (stream infilling) followed by rapid incision which initiated sometime near the time of occupation. This change from a low relief alluvial surface to one cut by narrow channels may have been an important shift for local populations. Their response to that environmental modification may be associated with the horticulturalist to agricultural intensification noted in the archaeological record. Tighter chronology and better understanding of the driving processes for barranco incision and hollow formation will improve our ability to correlate the changing landscape with land use practices. Such an improved correlation leads to better understanding of human-landscape interactions.
This dissertation creates models of past potential vegetation in the Southern Levant during most of the Holocene, from the beginnings of farming through the rise of urbanized civilization (12 to 2.5 ka BP). The time scale encompasses the rise and collapse of the earliest agrarian civilizations in this region. The archaeological record suggests that increases in social complexity were linked to climatic episodes (e.g., favorable climatic conditions coincide with intervals of prosperity or marked social development such as the Neolithic Revolution ca. 11.5 ka BP, the Secondary Products Revolution ca. 6 ka BP, and the Middle Bronze Age ca. 4 ka BP). The opposite can be said about periods of climatic deterioration, when settled villages were abandoned as the inhabitants returned to nomadic or semi nomadic lifestyles (e.g., abandonment of the largest Neolithic farming towns after 8 ka BP and collapse of Bronze Age towns and cities after 3.5 ka BP during the Late Bronze Age). This study develops chronologically refined models of past vegetation from 12 to 2.5 ka BP, at 500 year intervals, using GIS, remote sensing and statistical modeling tools (MAXENT) that derive from species distribution modeling. Plants are sensitive to alterations in their environment and respond accordingly. Because of this, they are valuable indicators of landscape change. An extensive database of historical and field gathered observations was created. Using this database as well as environmental variables that include temperature and precipitation surfaces for the whole study period (also at 500 year intervals), the potential vegetation of the region was modeled. Through this means, a continuous chronology of potential vegetation of the Southern Levantwas built. The produced paleo-vegetation models generally agree with the proxy records. They indicate a gradual decline of forests and expansion of steppe and desert throughout the Holocene, interrupted briefly during the Mid Holocene (ca. 4 ka BP, Middle Bronze Age). They also suggest that during the Early Holocene, forest areas were extensive, spreading into the Northern Negev. The two remaining forested areas in the Northern and Southern Plateau Region in Jordan were also connected during this time. The models also show general agreement with the major cultural developments, with forested areas either expanding or remaining stable during prosperous periods (e.g., Pre Pottery Neolithic and Middle Bronze Age), and significantly contracting during moments of instability (e.g., Late Bronze Age).
Historians typically view the postwar suburban metropolis from one of two vantages: from the vantage of urban capital as it flowed out of central cities into new automobile suburbs, where a new suburban culture emerged and flourished after 1945, or from the vantage of central cities, which become progressively hollowed out, leaving behind badly deteriorated inner-city services and facilities. Rarely, however, do historians view the postwar suburban metropolis from the vantage of peripheral small towns and rural countrysides. This study looks at the “metropolitan revolution” from the outside in, as the metropolis approached and then absorbed a landscape of farms and ranches centered on a small farm-service town. As a case study, it focuses on Tempe, Arizona, a town and rural countryside eight miles east of Phoenix.
During the postwar period, Tempe became part of the Phoenix metropolitan area. Agricultural production in Tempe yielded to suburban development, as a producer-oriented landscape of farms and ranches became a consumer-oriented landscape of residential subdivisions and university buildings. Intangible goods such as higher education eclipsed tangible goods such as grain, dairy, and cotton. Single-family houses supplanted farmland; shopping centers with parking lots undermined main street businesses; irrigation water became domestic water; and International-style university buildings displaced vernacular neighborhoods rooted in the early history of the settlement. In Tempe, the rural agricultural landscape gave way to a suburban landscape. But in important ways, the former shaped the latter, as the suburban metropolis inherited the underlying form and spatial relationships of farms and ranches.
This dissertation investigates spatial and temporal changes in land cover and plant species distributions on Cyprus in the past, present and future (1973-2070). Landsat image analysis supports inference of land cover changes following the political division of the island of Cyprus in 1974. Urban growth in Nicosia, Larnaka and Limasol, as well as increased development along the southern coastline, is clearly evident between 1973 and 2011. Forests of the Troodos and Kyrenia Ranges remain relatively stable, with transitions occurring most frequently between agricultural land covers and shrub/herbaceous land covers. Vegetation models were constructed for twenty-two plant species of Cyprus using Maxent to predict potentially suitable areas of occurrence. Modern vegetation models were constructed from presence-only data collected by field surveys conducted between 2008 and 2011. These models provide a baseline for the assessment of potential species distributions under two climate change scenarios (A1b and A2) for the years 2030, 2050, and 2070. Climate change in Cyprus is likely to influence habitat availability, particularly for high elevation species as the relatively low elevation mountain ranges and small latitudinal range prevent species from shifting to areas of suitable environmental conditions. The loss of suitable habitat for some species may allow the introduction of non-native plant species or the expansion of generalists currently excluded from these areas. Results from future projections indicate the loss of suitable areas for most species by the year 2030 under both climate regimes and all four endemic species (Cedrus brevifolia, Helianthemum obtusifolium, Pterocephalus multiflorus, and Quercus alnifolia) are predicted to lose all suitable environments as soon as 2030. As striking exceptions Prunus dulcis (almond), Ficus carica (fig), Punica granatum (pomegranate) and Olea europaea (olive), which occur as both wild varieties and orchard cultigens, will expand under both scenarios. Land cover and species distribution maps are evaluated in concert to create a more detailed interpretation of the Cypriot landscape and to discuss the potential implications of climate change for land cover and plant species distributions.
Remote sensing has demonstrated to be an instrumental tool in monitoring land changes as a result of anthropogenic change or natural disasters. Most disaster studies have focused on large-scale events with few analyzing small-scale disasters such as tornadoes. These studies have only provided a damage assessment perspective with the continued need to assess reconstruction. This study attempts to fill that void by examining recovery from the 1999 Moore, Oklahoma Tornado utilizing Landsat TM and ETM+ imagery. Recovery was assessed for 2000, 2001 and 2002 using spectral enhancements (vegetative and urban indices and a combination of the two), a recovery index and different statistical thresholds. Classification accuracy assessments were performed to determine the precision of recovery and select the best results. This analysis proved that medium resolution imagery could be used in conjunction with geospatial techniques to capture recovery. The new indices, Shortwave Infrared Index (SWIRI) and Coupled Vegetation and Urban Index (CVUI), developed for disaster management, were the most effective at discerning reconstruction using the 1.5 standard deviation threshold. Recovery rates for F-scale damages revealed that the most incredibly damaged areas associated with an F5 rating were the slowest to recover, while the lesser damaged areas associated with F1-F3 ratings were the quickest to rebuild. These findings were consistent for 2000, 2001 and 2002 also exposing that complete recovery was never attained in any of the F-scale damage zones by 2002. This study illustrates the significance the biophysical impact has on recovery as well as the effectiveness of using medium resolution imagery such as Landsat in future research.