Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
  • Print publication year: 2017
  • Online publication date: May 2017

1 - Human and human-mediated species dispersals through time: Introduction and overview

from I - Introduction

Summary

Homo sapiens is essentially an African primate. The vast majority of our evolution occurred in Africa, and the migrations of both our own species and ancestral human populations out of Africa are, in the grand scheme of things, relatively late-in-the-day occurrences. Nonetheless, we have not only travelled and settled beyond Africa, we have also achieved a global distribution unparalleled in other mammals (Gamble 2013; Finlayson 2014). From the most arid deserts to the iciest reaches of the frozen poles can be found human societies of diverse types and forms. And processes of dispersal, colonisation, and migration continue. Indeed, we now travel faster, further, and more often than ever before. In 2006, a staggering 4.4 billion people passed through the world's main airports (ACI 2007, cited in Hulme 2009: 13).

We have travelled far, but we have not travelled alone. Linked to the spread of human populations has been the geographic expansion of an extraordinary range of other species. These species have moved with humans, either directly, by way of our bodies, our caravans, our ships, and our roads, or indirectly by way of new routes opened up by our activities, for example, as we transform environments and accordingly provide pathways for new types of species to migrate and colonise. Much of this movement has been inadvertent, leading to the unintentional co-migration of a wide array of parasites, microbes, disease vectors, and invasive and commensal species. But we have deliberately carried with us a whole host of species as well, in particular the domesticated crops and animals that have enabled our astounding demographic success.

This book is about the extraordinary movements of humans across the globe, and the equally remarkable role that we and our ancestors have played in shaping the geographic dispersal of other species. It draws together contributors from diverse disciplines, whose research explores a broad range of species, time periods, and regions. The chapters collected here do not provide a comprehensive account of human dispersals and human-mediated species movements – such an undertaking would span many volumes and probably many lifetimes. Instead, they offer a broad range of illustrative examples that underscore the complex palimpsest of species movements through time.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO
Anderson, A. 2009. The rat and the octopus: initial human colonization and the prehistoric introduction of domestic animals to Remote Oceania. Biological Invasions 11: 1503–1519.
Anderson, E. 1952. Plants, Man, and Life. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Armelagos, G. J., Brown, P. J., and Turner, B. 2005. Evolutionary, historical and political economic perspectives on health and disease. Social Science and Medicine 61: 755–765.
Athens, J. S. 2009. Rattus exulans and the catastrophic disappearance of Hawai'i's native lowland forest. Biological Invasions 11(7): 1489–1501.
Bailey, G. 2004. World prehistory from the margins: the role of coastlines in human evolution. Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in History and Archaeology 1(1): 39–50.
Bailey, G. and Milner, N. 2002. Coastal hunter-gatherers and social evolution: marginal or central? Before Farming 3–4 (1): 1–15.
Bednarik, R. G. 2001. Replicating the first known sea travel by humans: the Lower Pleistocene crossing of Lombok Strait. Human Evolution 16 (3–4): 229–242.
Bednarik, R. G. 2003. Seafaring in the Pleistocene. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 13(1): 41–66.
Bellwood, P. 2005. First Farmers: The Origins of Agricultural Societies. Oxford: Blackwell.
Blust, R. 1999. Subgrouping, circularity and extinction: some issues in Austronesian comparative linguistics. In Selected Papers From the Eighth International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics Vol. 1, pp. 31–94. Taipei: Academia Sinica.
Bocquet-Appel, J.-P. 2011. When the world's population took off: the springboard of the Neolithic Demographic Transition. Science 333(6042): 560–561.
Boessenkool, S., Austin, J. J., Worthy, T. H., Scofield, P., Cooper, A., Seddon, P. J., and Waters, J. M. 2009. Relict or colonizer? Extinction and range expansion of penguins in southern New Zealand. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 276(1658): 815–821.
Boivin, N., Fuller, D. Q., and Crowther, A. 2012. Old World globalization and the Columbian exchange: comparison and contrast. World Archaeology 44(3): 452–469.
Boivin, N., Fuller, D. Q., Dennell, R., Allaby, R., and Petraglia, M. D. 2013. Human dispersal across diverse environments of Asia during the Upper Pleistocene. Quaternary International 300: 32–47.
Boivin, N. L, Zeder, M. A., Fuller, D. Q., Crowther, A., Larson, G., Erlandson, J. M., Denham, T., and Petraglia, M. D. 2016. Ecological consequences of human niche construction: examining long-term anthropogenic shaping of global species distributions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113(23): 6388–6396.
Braje, T. J. and Erlandson, J. M. 2013. Human acceleration of animal and plant extinctions: a Late Pleistocene, Holocene, and Anthropocene continuum. Anthropocene 4: 14–23.
Briggs, J. M., Spielmann, K. A., Schaafsma, H., Kintigh, K. W., Kruse, M., Morehouse, K., and Schollmeyer, K. (2006). Why ecology needs archaeologists and archaeology needs ecologists. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 4(4): 180–188.
Broodbank, C. 2006. The origins and early development of Mediterranean maritime activity. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 19(2): 199–230.
Brown, J. H. and Sax, D. F. 2004. An essay on some topics concerning invasive species. Austral Ecology 29: 530–536.
Burney, D. A. 1995. Historical perspectives on human-assisted biological invasions. Evolutionary Anthropology 4(6): 216–221.
Burney, D. A. 1997. Tropical islands as paleoecological laboratories: gauging the consequences of human arrival. Human Ecology 25(3): 437–457.
Collins, C. J., Rawlence, N. J., Prost, S., Anderson, C. N., Knapp, M., Scofield, R. P., Robertson, B. C., et al. 2014. Extinction and recolonization of coastal megafauna following human arrival in New Zealand. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 281(1786): 20140097.
Cooper, A. 2003. The indigenous versus the exotic: debating natural origins in early modern Europe. Landscape Research 28(1): 51–60.
Crosby, A. W. 2003. The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492. Westport: Praeger.
Crosby, A. W. 2004. Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900–1900. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Crumley, C. L. (ed.) 1994. Historical Ecology: Cultural Knowledge and Changing Landscapes. Santa Fe: School of American Research.
Davis, M., Chew, M. K, Hobbs, R. J., Lugo, A. E., Ewel, J. J., Vermeij, G. J., Brown, J. H., et al. 2011. Don't judge species on their origins. Nature 474: 153–154.
Denevan, W. M. 1992. The pristine myth: the landscape of the Americas in 1492. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 82(3): 369–385.
Dennell, R. 2007. ‘Resource-rich, stone-poor’: Early hominin land use in large river systems of northern India and Pakistan. In The Evolution and History of Human Populations in South Asia, eds. Petraglia, M. and Allchin, B., pp. 41–68. Netherlands: Springer.
Dennell, R. 2009. The Palaeolithic Settlement of Asia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Diamond, J. 1997. Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. New York: W. W. Norton.
Diamond, J. and Bellwood, P. 2003. Farmers and their languages: the first expansions. Science 300 (5619): 597–603.
di Castri, F. 1989. History of biological invasions with special emphasis on the Old World. In Biological Invasions: A Global Perspective, ed. Drake, J. A., Mooney, H. A. and Castri, F. di, pp. 1–30. Chichester: John Wiley and Sons.
Dickinson, W. R. 2000. Changing times: the Holocene legacy. Environmental History 5(4): 483–502.
Ellis, E. C., Kaplan, J. O., Fuller, D. Q., Vavrus, S., Goldewijk, K. K., and Verburg, P. H. 2013. Used planet: a global history. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110(20): 7978–7985.
Elton, C. S. 1958. The Ecology of Invasions by Animals and Plants. London: Methuen.
Erlandson, J. M. 2001. The archaeology of aquatic adaptations: paradigms for a new millennium. Journal of Archaeological Research 9(4): 287–350.
Erlandson, Jon M. 2010. Food for thought: the role of coastlines and aquatic resources in human evolution. In Human Brain Evolution, eds. Cunnane, S. C. and Stewart, K. M., pp. 125–136. Hoboken: John Wiley and Sons.
Erlandson, J. M. and Fitzpatrick, S. M. 2006. Oceans, islands, and coasts: current perspectives on the role of the sea in human prehistory. Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology 1(1): 5–32.
Finlayson, C. 2014. The Improbable Primate: How Water Shaped Human Evolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Fuller, D. Q., van Etten, J., Manning, K., Castillo, C., Kingwell-Banham, E., Weisskopf, A., Qin, L., et al. 2011. The contribution of rice agriculture and livestock pastoralism to prehistoric methane levels: an archaeological assessment. The Holocene 21(5): 743–759.
Gamble, C. 2013. Settling the Earth: The Archaeology of Deep Human History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gommans, J. J. 1998. The silent frontier of South Asia, c. AD 1100–1800. Journal of World History 9(1): 1–23.
Goudie, A. S. 2009. The Human Impact on the Natural Environment: Past, Present, and Future. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
Gould, S. J. 1998. An evolutionary perspective on strengths, fallacies, and confusions in the concept of native plants. Arnoldia 58(1): 3–10.
Gray, R. D., Drummond, A. J., and Greenhill, S. J. 2009. Language phylogenies reveal expansion pulses and pauses in Pacific settlement. Science 323(5913): 479–483.
Grayson, D. K. 2001. The archaeological record of human impacts on animal populations. Journal of World Prehistory 15(1): 1–68.
Gröning, G. and Wolschke-Bulmahn, J. 2003. The native plant enthusiasm: ecological panacea or xenophobia? Landscape Research 28(1): 75–88.
Hall, M. 2003. Editorial: The native, naturalized and exotic – plants and animals in human history. Landscape Research 28(1): 5–9.
Hall, M. 2005. Earth Repair: A Transatlantic History of Environmental Restoration. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press.
Hall, M. (ed.) 2009. Restoration and History: The Search for a Usable Environmental Past. New York: Routledge.
Hayashida, F. M. 2005. Archaeology, ecological history, and conservation. Annual Review of Anthropology 34: 43–65.
Heckenberger, M. J., Kuikuro, A., Kuikuro, U. T., Russell, C., Schmidt, M., Fausto, C., and Franchetto, B. 2003. Amazonia 1492: pristine forest or cultural parkland? Science 301: 1710–1714.
Helms, M. 1988. Ulysses’ Sail: An Ethnographic Odyssey of Power, Knowledge, and Geographical Distance. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Hulme, P. E. 2009. Trade, transport and trouble: managing invasive species pathways in an era of globalization. Journal of Applied Ecology 46: 10–18.
Hunt, T. L. and Lipo, C. P. 2006. Late colonization of Easter Island. Science 311(5767): 1603–1606.
Kennett, D. J. and Winterhalder, B. 2008. Demographic expansion, despotism, and the colonisation of East and South Polynesia. Islands of Inquiry: Colonisation, Seafaring and the Archaeology of Maritime Landscapes (Terra Australis 29), pp. 87–96. Canberra: Australian National University Press.
Kirch, P. V. 1982. Ecology and the adaptation of Polynesian agricultural systems. Archaeology in Oceania 17(1): 1–6.
Kirch, P. V. 2005. Archaeology and global change: the Holocene record. Annual Review of Environment and Resources 30: 409–440.
Kirch, P. V. 2011. When did the Polynesians settle Hawai'i? A review of 150 years of scholarly inquiry and a tentative answer. Hawaiian Archaeology 12: 3–26.
Krause, J., Fu, Q., Good, J. M., Viola, B., Shunkov, M. V., Derevianko, A. P., and Pääbo, S. 2010. The complete mitochondrial DNA genome of an unknown hominin from southern Siberia. Nature 464(7290): 894–897.
Laland, K. N., Odling-Smee, J., and Feldman, M. W. 2000. Niche construction, biological evolution, and cultural change. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 23(01): 131–146.
Laland, K. N., Odling‐Smee, J., and Feldman, M. W. 2001. Cultural niche construction and human evolution. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 14(1): 22–33.
Laland, K., Odling-Smee, J., and Myles, S. 2010. How culture shaped the human genome: bringing genetics and the human sciences together. Nature Reviews 11: 137–148.
Larson, G., Albarella, U., Dobney, K., Rowley-Conwy, P., Schibler, J., Tresset, A., Vigne, J.-D., et al. 2007. Ancient DNA, pig domestication, and the spread of the Neolithic into Europe. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104(39): 15276–15281.
Levine, J. M. and D'Antonio, C. M. 2003. Forecasting biological invasions with increasing international trade. Conservation Biology 17(1): 322–326.
Lewis, S. L. and Maslin, M. A. (2015). Defining the Anthropocene. Nature 519(7542): 171–180.
Lowenthal, D. 2013. Eden, Earth Day, and ecology: landscape restoration as metaphor and mission. Landscape Research 23(1): 5–31.
Marris, E. 2011. Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-wild World. New York: Bloomsbury.
McNeill, J. R. 2003. Europe's place in the global history of biological exchange. Landscape Research 28(1): 33–39.
McNeill, J. R. 2004. Biological exchanges. In Encyclopedia of World Environmental History, eds. Krech, S. III, McNeill, J. R. and Merchant, C., pp. 249–256. New York: Routledge.
McNeill, J. R. 2010. The Mosquito Crusades: a history of the American anti-mosquito movement from Reed Commission to the first Earth Day. Environmental History 15(2): 331–333.
Mooney, H. A. and Cleland, E. E. 2001. The evolutionary impact of invasive species. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 98(10): 5446–5451.
Mulrooney, M. A., Bickler, S. H., Allen, M. S., and Ladefoged, T. N. 2011. High-precision dating of colonization and settlement in East Polynesia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108(23): E192–E194.
O'Connor, S., Ono, R., and Clarkson, C. 2011. Pelagic fishing at 42,000 years before the present and the maritime skills of modern humans. Science 334(6059): 1117–1121.
Petraglia, M., Clarkson, C., Boivin, N., Haslam, M., Korisettar, R., Chaubey, G., Ditchfield, P., et al. (2009). Population increase and environmental deterioration correspond with microlithic innovations in South Asia ca. 35,000 years ago. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106(30): 12261–12266.
Redman, C. L. 1999. Human Impact on Ancient Environments. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
Redman, C., James, S. R., Fish, P. R., and Rogers, D. (eds.) 2004. The Archaeology of Global Change: The Impact of Humans on the Environment. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Books.
Reich, D., Green, R. E., Kircher, M., Krause, J., Patterson, N., Durand, E. Y., Viola, B., et al. 2010. Genetic history of an archaic hominin group from Denisova Cave in Siberia. Nature 468(7327): 1053–1060.
Reich, D., Patterson, N., Kircher, M., Delfin, F., Nandineni, M. R., Pugach, I., Min-Shan Ko, A., et al. 2011. Denisova admixture and the first modern human dispersals into Southeast Asia and Oceania. The American Journal of Human Genetics 89(4): 516–528.
Rieth, T. M., Hunt, T. L., Lipo, C., and Wilmshurst, J. M. 2011. The 13th century polynesian colonization of Hawai'i Island. Journal of Archaeological Science 38(10): 2740–2749.
Rose, J. 2007. The Arabian Corridor Migration Model: Archaeological evidence for hominin dispersals into Oman during the Middle and Upper Pleistocene. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 37: 219–237.
Ruddiman, W. F. 2003. The anthropogenic greenhouse era began thousands of years ago. Climatic Change 61(3): 261–293.
Shea, J. J. and Sisk, M. L. 2010. Complex projectile technology and Homo sapiens dispersal into western Eurasia. PaleoAnthropology 2010: 100–122.
Smith, B. D. and Zeder, M. A. 2013. The onset of the Anthropocene. Anthropocene 4: 8–13.
Spriggs, M. 1997. Landscape catastrophe and landscape enhancement: are either or both true in the Pacific. In Historical Ecology in the Pacific Islands: Prehistoric Environmental and Landscape Change, eds. Kirch, P. V. and Hunt, T. L., pp. 80–104. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Steadman, D. W. 1995. Prehistoric extinctions of Pacific Island birds: biodiversity meets zooarchaeology. Science 267: 1123–1131.
Tatem, A. J., Hay, S. I., and Rogers, D. J. 2006a. Global traffic and disease vector dispersal. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 103(16): 6242–6247.
Tatem, A. J., Rogers, D. J., and Hay, S. I. 2006b. Global transport networks and infectious disease spread. Advances in Parasitology 62: 293–343.
Taylor, B. W. and Irwin, R. E. 2004. Linking economic activities to the distribution of exotic plants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 101(51): 17725–17730.
van der Leeuw, S. and Redman, C. L. 2002. Placing archaeology at the center of socio-natural studies. American Antiquity 67(4): 597–605.
Vitousek, P. M., Mooney, H. A., Lubchenco, J., and Melillo, J. M. 1997. Human domination of Earth's ecosystems. Science 277: 494–499.
Webb, J. L. 2005. Malaria and the peopling of early tropical Africa. Journal of World History 16(3): 270–291.
Wilmshurst, J. M., Hunt, T. L., Lipo, C. P., and Anderson, A. J. 2011. High-precision radiocarbon dating shows recent and rapid initial human colonization of East Polynesia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108(5): 1815–1820.