Risky business: The impact of climate and climate variability on human population dynamics in Western Europe during the Last Glacial Maximum

Ariane Burke, Masa Kageyama, Guillaume Latombe, Marc Fasel, Marc Fasel, Mathieu Vrac, Gilles Ramstein, Patrick M. A. James

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The extent to which climate change has affected the course of human evolution is an enduring question. The ability to maintain spatially extensive social networks and a fluid social structure allows human foragers to “map onto” the landscape, mitigating the impact of ecological risk and conferring resilience. But what are the limits of resilience and to which environmental variables are foraging populations sensitive? We address this question by testing the impact of a suite of environmental variables, including climate variability, on the distribution of human populations in Western Europe during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). Climate variability affects the distribution of plant and animal resources unpredictably, creating an element of risk for foragers for whom mobility comes at a cost. We produce a model of habitat suitability that allows us to generate predictions about the probable distribution of human populations and discuss the implications of these predictions for the structure of human populations and their social and cultural evolution during the LGM.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-229
Number of pages13
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Volume164
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2017

Keywords

  • pleistocene
  • paleoclimate modelling
  • Western Europe
  • random forest
  • upper palaeolithic
  • last glacial maximum
  • population dynamics

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