Enroll in Geography 4904/7904: Paleoecology

#Exploretheworld this Spring semester @Mizzou!

Many scientists are in agreement that we have entered the Anthropocene, a new geologic epoch that recognizes the nearly ubiquitous influence of humans on natural earth processes and resulting patterns. In this course, we will examine the spatial and temporal rates of change to forest ecosystems throughout the past ca. 10,000 years during the Holocene epoch to compare with contemporary findings that argue for the onset of the Anthropocene.

Professor: Grant Elliott


In this class, we will explore course material as it relates to our class project. For the class project, we will be collaborating with students from the University of Wisconsin – Platteville on a paleoecology study of local oak-hickory forests (e.g., Rock Bridge State Park) by taking sediment core samples that will permit a local environmental reconstruction spanning the approximately the past 10,000 years to address some of the following questions:

1.        Do fossil charcoal data suggest an abrupt change in forest fires during the Holocene?

2.        For how many millennia have oak-hickory forests been dominant here locally?

3.        What role have human land-use changes played in altering natural process and patterns in forests locally?

4.        How have changes in climate impacted forest dynamics during the past 10,000 years?

5.        Do our study results support the onset of the Anthropocene?