What are Anthromes? (Anthropogenic Biomes, Human Biomes)
Anthromes, also known as Anthropogenic Biomes, or Human Biomes, are the globally significant ecological patterns shaped by sustained direct interactions between people and ecosystems, including urban, village, cropland, rangeland and cultured anthromes.
Just as the classic biomes are shaped by the global patterns of climate, anthromes are shaped by the global patterns of human populations and their use of land over the long-term. The term originated with Erle Ellis and Navin Ramankutty in their 2008 paper in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment as a more comprehensive way to integrate humans into global ecology. Anthropogenic Biomes entry at Wikipedia.
What are Biomes?
Biomes are fundamental units of biology and ecology, representing the globally significant patterns of life across the biosphere. In the classic definition of biomes, these are tropical rainforests, grasslands, deserts and other ecosystems defined by global patterns in climate. Biomes entry at Wikipedia.
Why are there different Anthromes versions? (versions 1, 2, 12K, and 12K DGG)
Since the original version of anthromes in 2008 (Anthromes v1), three newer versions of anthromes have been developed to enable anthrome changes to be mapped over time and to assess biodiversity in anthromes. These versions differ in terms of classification methods, data inputs, and spatial data system. The current version is Anthromes 12K DGG (v1), and is recommended for all uses.
Anthromes version 1 used a statistical method (two-step cluster analysis) to identify and map anthromes using global data for human population density, land use and land cover, resulting in an empirical classification for the year 2000 with 21 anthrome classes, three of them wild.
Anthromes version 2 is based on the patterns identified in version 1, but simplified to 19 anthrome classes (2 of them wild) and used similar global data, but classified anthromes using a set of standard classification rules that allowed changes in anthrome maps to be compared across time periods (initially for 1700 to 2000 CE). Though Anthromes v1 classes were derived statistically from global data, making them more "objective", this approach also produces different classification schemes when applied to data for different times. The rule-based classification of Anthromes v2 produces consistent anthrome classes from data at different times, enabling analysis of anthrome changes over time.
Anthromes 12K (version 0) used a very similar classification as Anthromes v2, adding only a single new "ice" class, but was applied to the HYDE 3.2 global population and land use database enabling anthrome maps to be produced for 73 time intervals in the 12,000 years (12K) between 10,000 BCE and 2015 CE.
Anthromes 12K DGG (version 1) updated the anthromes classification scheme and upgraded the geographic grid units used in all prior anthromes versions (5 arc minute grid cells compatible with climate models) to an equal area Discrete Global Grid system (~96 km² hexagonal "DGG cells") to overcome spatial biases in anthrome classification and global statistical assessments of biodiversity in anthromes.
Are biomes obsolete?
No. Even though humans have transformed most of the terrestrial biosphere into anthromes, biomes remain useful as a basic concept in biology and ecology, as units defining the global patterns of ecosystems and biodiversity across the biosphere (anthromes are just "anthropogenic biomes"). Moreover, the classic biomes shaped by climate are still present as patches of habitat inside and outside anthrome landscapes.
What are Cultured anthromes? (and Seminatural anthromes?)
Cultured anthromes are landscapes shaped by low intensity land use and limited areas of intensive land use (<20% of land used for crops, pasture or urban). The Cultured anthromes level was introduced in Anthromes 12K DGG to replace the term "Seminatural" used in Anthromes v2 and 12K v0, which replaced the Forested anthrome level identified in Anthromes version 1.
What are Anthrome "Levels"?
Anthrome Levels ("groups" in Anthromes v1) are broad categories comprising multiple anthrome classes. For example, Villages are an anthrome level, comprised of rice villages, rainfed villages, irrigated villages, and so forth.
Are there marine and aquatic anthromes?
It might be possible to classify and map human influences on marine and other aquatic ecosystems to create a global map of marine anthromes. But this is not as straightforward as mapping anthromes on land. Though reefs and coastal systems are fairly static, key marine ecosystems move around the oceans, changing with currents and seasons, so that the mapping of marine biomes, anthropogenic or otherwise, requires a dynamic map, changing over time. Recent work using remote sensing of the oceans may yet make this a reality.
What are "Human Systems"?
Human systems emerge from human interactions. As individuals, and even as populations, humans are just another species. Human systems, on the other hand, represent the integrated social effects of people interacting with each other at scales capable of forcing changes in the atmosphere, lithosphere, biosphere and other earth systems. Human systems have emerged as new primary earth systems, both by dramatically altering preexisting natural processes and more importantly, by introducing a host of new earth system-processes entirely novel to the earth systems.