On the passing of Will Steffen

This morning, I learned, through the Anthropocene Working Group (AWG), that Will Steffen had just died. I just had to pause and think about him, and this is my spontaneous Monday morning reflection. Will’s body of work and many accolades will testify to his formative and ongoing influence on the fields of global change and Earth system science. In fact, […]

12,000 years of Anthrome Culture

Ever since Navin Ramankutty and I introduced anthromes in our 2008 paper, “Putting people in the map”, I’ve been working to shift global thinking on people and nature. Today, our PNAS paper “People have shaped most of terrestrial nature for at least 12,000 years” presents evidence supporting a new paradigm for global ecology and conservation. Our work confirms, through a […]

Welcome to the New Anthroecology Site!

After more than 20 years at ecotope.org, we now have a new home at anthroecology.org. We are now The Anthroecology Lab, changed from the Laboratory for Anthropogenic Landscape Ecology. The old site served us well over the years, but it used old web technology, and though we still study the ecology of anthropogenic landscapes, our focus on anthromes and anthroecology […]

UMBC Presidential Research Professor

I’m so happy to be the UMBC Presidential Research Professor for 2021-2024! A huge thank you to all of you who made this possible – there are so many! And especially those who encouraged me to apply for this, with a special shout out to Dr. Christine Mallinson, Director of the Center for Social Science Scholarship, my department chair, Alan […]

Anthroecology: A New Synthesis

Why did behaviorally modern humans and no other multicellular species in the history of the Earth gain the capacity to transform an entire planet? Biology alone cannot explain this – Homo sapiens is just another species in the genus Homo with a few distinctive traits- not including stone tools (common to all species in the genus) and fire (common to […]

Blogging on!

The Human Landscapes Blog is back! Last year, I began an upgrade to WordPress – and got stuck- much harder than expected.  More importantly, after starting to use twitter (@erleellis, @ecosynth, @globalyzer), I’d basically stopped blogging. Yet, I’d been feeling that something was missing – twitter isn’t a real replacement for blogging about the papers we publish and the work of others that […]

On the Passing of a Great Mentor

Roger M. Spanswick, Professor of Plant Biology, chair of my Ph.D. and undergraduate advisor, died on February 12, 2014 at the age of 74. Roger Spanswick mentored me through some of the biggest transitions in my life, educationally and just in growing up. Though my current work is nearly impossible to connect directly to the work I did with Roger, […]

A tale of two planets: The Anthropocene revisited

Is the Anthropocene recent? Defined solely by the accelerating impacts of an industrial society that threatens the future of both humanity and the biosphere (Barnosky et al., 2012, Rockstrom et al., 2009)? A closer look at the history of human use of land yields a very different story. Today in PNAS, my colleagues and I present a new global history of […]

Global tipping points in the terrestrial biosphere?

Is our planet now threatened by rapid global changes caused by human forcing of the terrestrial biosphere past a planetary tipping point? Two different articles in Nature have suggested that the answer may be yes (Rockstrom et al. 2009, Barnosky et al., 2012). Such is the question that Barry Brook, myself and colleagues evaluated recently in a peer-reviewed journal article […]