Debate on the complex coevolution that has shaped interactions between forested ecosystems and humans through constantly evolving land-use practices over the past millennia has long been centered on the Mediterranean because this area is seen as the cradle for the birth and growth of agricultural activities. Here, we argue that the transition from hunting-gathering by Mesolithic foragers to the food-producing economy of Neolithic farmers was a main trigger of biological changes not only in the Mediterranean but also in the Black Sea and Azov Sea coasts through woodcutting, herding, fire and agriculture. Although the ecological erosion was clearly focused on forested ecosystems, this process seems to have fostered an increased biodiversity. We show, by focusing on the fertile coast of the Azov Sea, that (i) the first evidence of cereal cultivation and human-induced fire occurred in southern Russia 7000 years ago; (ii) the early development of agriculture was a major but discontinuous process; (iii) the coastal ecosystems were rapidly disturbed by anthropogenic activities; and (iv) the Neolithic was a critical threshold for the forested ecosystems of the coastal area. The impact of early anthropogenic pressures seems to have been largely neglected or underestimated for the period encompassing the Neolithic cultural phase.
|Number of pages||9|
|Journal||Quaternary Science Reviews|
|Publication status||Published - 5 Apr 2015|
- Agro-pastoral farming
- Ecosystem dynamics
- Taman Peninsula