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Olea expansion and mosaic Landscape formation in an island Environment since human Arrival

Project description

Studying the spread of Olea and mosaic landscape formation in the Mediterranean

Mediterranean agro-sylvo-pastoral landscapes are at the focus of crucial environmental and social issues linked to mosaic landscape creation. Islands throw light on long-term cultural and environmental dynamics by amplifying geographical and cultural determinants. The Balearic Islands are crucial for the study of these interactions during the Holocene due to their late human colonisation. With this in mind, the EU-funded OLEA project aims to focus on the drivers and timing of the spread of Olea macchia as a central feature of the current Balearic landscape. To this end, it will combine high-resolution studies of coastal lagoon cores and archaeological sites, pollen morphology, multi-proxy analysis, fire history, data integration and agent-based modelling. This work will further scientific understanding of, inter alia, mosaic landscape formation in the Mediterranean. Moreover, OLEA wants to give insights on how humans transform the environment and faced societal and climate challenges throughout history.


The Mediterranean sylvo-agropastoral landscapes resulting from a long-term co-evolutionary process between socio-environmental and climate variables are at the centre of interest for environmental and social key issues linked to the creation of mosaic landscape. Islands provide vital insights for understanding cultural and environmental dynamics on a long-term perspective as they tend to amplify geographical and cultural determinants. The Balearic Islands constitute an invaluable laboratory for studying these interactions during the Holocene. OLEA project focuses on drivers and timing of the spread of Olea macchia as a central feature of the current Balearic landscape. The history of Olea horticulture and management since the earliest human arrival to these islands may be exemplar of Mediterranean dynamics. To attain these goals with a holistic approach, high-resolution palynological studies (coastal lagoon cores and archaeological sites), pollen morphology (Olea varieties), multi-proxy analysis (pollen, NPPs, sedimentary charcoal), fire history (natural or anthropic fires), paleoenvironmental-ecological-archaeobotanical-archaeological data integration and agent-based modelling (ABM) will be combined. In doing so, several Training Objectives will be achieved, including: improvement of morphological skills of microremains identification, new knowledge on Mediterranean vegetation, use of computational modelling and development of transdisciplinary and transferable skills. OLEA project will offer novel approaches and methods to understand mosaic landscape formation in the Mediterranean, history of managing and cultivation of cultural trees and how past societies faced climate oscillations and societal transformations in fragile island environments during the last millennia of changes.


Net EU contribution
€ 171 473,28
Via universita 4
41121 Modena

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Nord-Est Emilia-Romagna Modena
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00