9th Martin Schwarzbach Colloquium

schwarzbachbannerThe Centre for Quaternary Science and Geoarchaeology (QSGA) is pleased to announce its ninth annual colloquium in honour of Martin Schwarzbach. This year, our meeting focuses on the interaction between palaeoclimate and palaeoenvironment and hominin evolution and mobility.
We are especially pleased that Matt Grove from the University of Liverpool and John Kingston from the University of Michigan have accepted our invitation to Cologne.

We would like to extend a very cordial invitation to this exciting meeting!


15:00 – 15:15       Words of welcome

15:15 – 16:15       Matt Grove:

Matt Grove Photo

Matt Grove
University of Liverpool

“Palaeoclimate variability and human evolution: speciation, extinction, and dispersal”
(45´ presentation, 15´ discussion)

This talk takes as a baseline Potts’ ‘variability selection hypothesis’ (VSH), and uses various quantitative approaches to examine the influence of palaeoclimatic variability on human evolution.

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Beginning with macro-scale approaches, grove_matt_stoneit is shown that the central hominin adaptive radiation and the spread of the first stone tools beyond Ethiopia coincide with a concerted period of selection for plasticity. This adaptive radiation is then partitioned into speciation and extinction events, with the timing of these events tested against amplitudes of the three primary orbital cycles. Whilst speciation events correlate with high amplitudes of all three orbital cycles, extinction events do not, and it is suggested that extinction in the hominins was driven primarily by inter-specific competition.

The remainder of the talk focuses on dispersal, using classical theory and empirical results to show that a) climatic variability promotes plasticity and b) plasticity facilitates dispersal.grove_matt_hill These two results are the core of the ‘accumulated plasticity hypothesis’ (APH), which suggests that plasticity accumulated during periods of high climatic variability will be expressed via dispersal in subsequent periods of low variability. A specific test of this hypothesis is presented using moisture proxies from Lake Tana, Ethiopia, and the chronology of the early Homo sapiens dispersal into the Levant.

 16:15 – 16:30      Coffee break

16:30 – 17:30      John Kingston:


John Kingston
University of Michigan

“Exploring early hominin evolution – environment interaction using agent-based modeling”
(45´ presentation, 15´ discussion)

Hypotheses linking hominin evolution in Africa to environmental change remain difficult to test, primarily due to a lack of resolution and scaling mismatches between relevant data sets.

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There is an acute need to develop new perspectives on links between global and basinal scale environmental change, and to relate these to ecological factors that may have influenced hominin evolution. drilling_kOngoing research by the Hominin Site Paleolake Drilling Project (HSPDP) is providing a high-resolution environmental framework through the analysis of long drill cores retrieved from hominin-bearing successions in Kenya and Ethiopia. As part of this investigation, we are using Agent-Based Modeling (NetLogo) to explore interactions between evolution and environmental change and investigate how simple rules might shape emergent properties of these complex systems in space and time. Through simulations of multiple autonomous agents interacting dynamically with each other and their environment, the model simulates alternate scenarios of environmental change and variable responses of hominins and their communities to these changes. Agent based model_kSpecifically we are evaluating the relative contribution of developmental plasticity, micro- or macroevolutionary change, behavioral flexibility, and/or habitat tracking as strategies to navigate environmental change. The ultimate goal of these models is to develop more specific hypotheses that will help direct the focus of research and utilize available empirical fossil and environmental data to test them.

17:30                 Farewell drinks and snacks

If you are interested in attending, please reserve a seat using our online booking system or send an email to the IRTG Office till April 10, 2015.

Event & Booking Information:

Date, Time: 24/04/2015, 15:00 h – 18:00 h

Location: Geo-/Bio-Hörsaal, Zülpicher Str. 49a, Cologne

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