Quaternary is the geological period that started 2.6 million years ago, and it is defined by the glacial cycles. Valentí Rull, researcher at ICTJA-CSC, explains in his new book ‘Quaternary, ecology, evolution and biogeography’ the responses of organisms and ecosystems to the climate changes occurred during this period and how those reactions have determined its unique distribution, its evolution and its ecological dynamic.

The book, edited by Academic Press (Elsevier), explains, through the vision of Palaeoecology, how the biosphere works and its interactions with other elements of the Earth System throughout the Quaternary. Rull offers an introduction to the study of the evolutionary and ecological processes that have shaped the present biosphere, under the influences of the glacial and interglacial cycles.

“The present biosphere is the result of a global reorganization of the Earth’s operating system throughout the Quaternary. The main reason is the existence of recurrent global glacial-interglacial cycles, but also, in the last millennia, due to the human influence that has changed the life patterns on the Earth”, said Valentí Rull.

The book presents a different view of the Quaternary, which has been traditionally seen as a period marked by the extinction of many species and the decline of biodiversity. According to Valentí Rull, the Quaternary is a period of neat diversification. “On one hand, the climate changes have produced biogeographical reorganizations, especially migrations, and, on the other hand, they have stimulated the speciation, exceeding the extinction”, says the author.

The book is divided into six chapters that propose a gradual progress which starts with an explanation of the climate changes that occurred during the Quaternary period. Over the following chapters, Rull analyzes the effects of all these changes on the organisms and biodiversity, and also on communities and organisms. In the fifth chapter, the author explores the influence of human activity on the biosphere. In the sixth and last chapter, Rull summarizes all the previous information to understand “how the future may be in a global change scenario”.

“What humans have done and what they are presently doing to the biosphere it is what can be expected from a specie like ours. We are not so important: the biosphere is almost 4.000 millions years old, and we arrived only 200.000 years ago. One day we will be gone, like any other specie, and the biosphere will continue", said Valentí Rull in relation to the impact of human activity on the biosphere.

According to the author, the book also wants to "present Palaeoecology as necessary discipline and useful tool to understand the ecological phenomena in the long term, to know what is happening nowadays and also what may happen in the nearby future”.

This book has its origin in the instructional material gathered by Valentí Rull to prepare the Paleoecology postgraduate course, organized by the CSIC. The initial material has been completed and increased with more information to offer "a vision as complete as possible".

Although, according to the author, “it is not a general content book”, it can be read by a wide range of people interested in the topic: “From postgraduate and senior university students to professors, researchers and teachers from all different fields related to the Earth System”.

Book reference

Rull, V.(2020). Quaternary Ecology, Evolution, and Biogeography. Academic Press (Elsevier). 278p. ISBN: 9780128204733

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