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Microbiotic signatures of the Anthropocene in marginal marine and freshwater palaeoenvironments

By
I. P. Wilkinson
I. P. Wilkinson
British Geological Survey, Nottingham NG12 5GG, UKDepartment of Geology, University of Leicester, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK
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C. Poirier
C. Poirier
Littoral Environnement Sociétés, Université de La Rochelle, CNRS, 2 rue Olympe de Gouges, 17000 La Rochelle, France
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M. J. Head
M. J. Head
Department of Earth Sciences, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario L2S 3A1, Canada
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C. D. Sayer
C. D. Sayer
Environmental Change Research Centre, Department of Geography, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK
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J. Tibby
J. Tibby
Department of Geography, Environment and Population, University of Adelaide, South Australia 5005, Australia
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Published:
January 01, 2014

Abstract

The term ‘Anthropocene’ has been proposed to indicate a geological interval characterized by global anthropogenic environmental change. This paper attempts to recognize a method by which the Anthropocene can be defined micropalaeontologically. In order to do this, microfloras and microfaunas (diatoms, macrophytes, dinoflagellate cysts, foraminifera and ostracods) from nearshore waters through to paralic and freshwater aquatic milieux are considered, and biotic variability with an anthropogenic causation identified. Microbiotic change can be related to anthropogenically induced extinctions, pollution-related mutation, environmentally influenced assemblage variability, geochemistry of carapaces/tests, floral change related to lacustrine acidification, faunal and floral correlation to industrial and agricultural signatures and introduction of exotic species via shipping. The influence of humanity on a local scale can be recognized in assemblages as far back as 5000 years BP. However, widespread anthropogenic change took place in Europe and America, particularly in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, although in Asia (e.g. Japan) it cannot be observed prior to the twentieth century. Profound and global biotic change began in the mid-twentieth century and, if the Anthropocene is to be defined in this way, then the period 1940–1945 might encompass the biotic base of the interval.

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Contents

Geological Society, London, Special Publications

A Stratigraphical Basis for the Anthropocene

C. N. Waters
C. N. Waters
British Geological Survey, UK
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J. A. Zalasiewicz
J. A. Zalasiewicz
University of Leicester, UK
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M. Williams
M. Williams
University of Leicester, UK
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M. Ellis
M. Ellis
British Geological Survey, UK
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A. M. Snelling
A. M. Snelling
British Geological Survey, UK
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Geological Society of London
Volume
395
ISBN electronic:
9781862396715
Publication date:
January 01, 2014

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