Defining the Anthropocene on California's Northern Channel Islands


California's Northern Channel Islands provide some of the most detailed and well-preserved records of human occupation of dynamic island landscapes in the world. Here, archaeological and historical ecological research over the past 20 years has produced a variety of data about human eco-dynamics in both terrestrial and marine ecosystems, spanning nearly 13,000 years. We summarize current knowledge of cultural and ecological changes from Paleoindian to historic times, focusing on what archaeological and paleoecological records tell us about when the Anthropocene might have begun on this archipelago. Contrary to current recommendations that the onset of the Anthropocene be defined as occurring during the past century or so, humans have actively transformed Channel Island ecosystems for millennia. Such transformations--the result of landscape burning, animal and plant translocations, hunting, fishing, ranching, and other activities--have accelerated through time, but their effects can be traced back 7000 to 8000 years (or more) in terrestrial and marine ecosystems of the islands. Globally, ignoring such ancient human transformations will result in defining an Anthropocene devoid of anthropological data.

Cite this Record

Defining the Anthropocene on California's Northern Channel Islands. Jon Erlandson, Todd Braje, Kristina Gill, Torben Rick. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430807)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -125.464; min lat: 32.101 ; max long: -114.214; max lat: 42.033 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16560