via [ The National Academies Press ] “Understanding Climate’s Influence on Human Evolution”
I have always been fascinated by a spatial understanding of “who we are” and “what we know.” In my mind there is an innately spatial component to both “Climate” and “Evolution”
[ Correlation Between Genetic and Geographic Structure in Europe ]
The hominin fossil record documents a history of critical evolutionary events that have ultimately shaped and defined what it means to be human, including the origins of bipedalism; the emergence of our genus Homo; the first use of stone tools; increases in brain size; and the emergence of Homo sapiens, tools, and culture. The geological record suggests that some of these evolutionary events were coincident with substantial changes in African and Eurasian climate, raising the intriguing possibility that key junctures in human evolution and behavioral development may have been affected or controlled by the environmental characteristics of the areas where hominins evolved. However, with both a sparse hominin fossil record and an incomplete understanding of past climates, the particular effect of the environment on hominin evolution remains speculative. This presents an opportunity for exciting and fundamental scientific research to improve our understanding of how climate may have helped to shape our species, and thereby to shed light on the evolutionary forces that made us distinctively human
Case Studies, The Biodiversity I Live, What I am Looking at
Every summer my wife and I migrate out to the backyard. During the warm season the backyard becomes the most used room in the house. On our city lot we’ve learned about the bio-diversity of this highly industrialized community. This region is extraordinarily rich in biodiversity and rare ecosystems, fragmented between mostly industrial areas. 80% of East Chicago is zoned heavy industrial, with less than 14% for residential, and 6% for light industrial and commercial.
No region in the Midwest has been as greatly impacted by human activity as Northwest Indiana. Pre-European settlement, a series of white pine and jack pine-covered dunes, and swales rich in wetland species, paralleled Lake Michigan. Inland, the dune and swale topography met the Calumet marshes.
Although it is undoubtedly still the richest region in Indiana and in the Great Lakes basin in terms of biodiversity, Northwest Indiana ecosystems are fragmented and under constant, diverse stress from multiple sources. Without restoration of ecosystem functions and structures, their long term viability is severely threatened
[ EPA ]
But what amazes most is how quickly life takes hold and grows here. By having our own little paradise in such an environment that is hostile toward nature we attract all sorts of creatures. However, we are discovering that we are not the only ones. As we get out in the community we are seeing many residents creating their own special spaces in their backyards. I hope someday to document some of these spaces.
This year Kristin has begun taking these incredible close-ups of the garden.
The Biodiversity I Live, What I am Looking at