About us

What is METHOD?

METHOD is the acronym for Modelling EnvironmenTal dynamics and HOminin Dispersals around the Mid-Pleistocene Revolution. We are an International Focus Group (IFG) aimed to the study of the influence of the Mid-Pleistocene Revolution(MPR) on ecosystems and on human survival and evolution.

The forerunner of METHOD was the MPR-pilot project (Modelling human settlement, fauna and flora dynamics in Europe during the Mid-Pleistocene Revolution [1.2 to 0.4 Ma]), funded by the INQUA Human and Biosphere Commission (HABCOM) from 2014 to 2015.

What is an IFG?

An International Focus Group (IFG) is a non-permanent collaboration network, funded by the International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA). IFGs are designed to address specific scientific issues of wide international significance. Thus, an IFG does not represent a field of study (which is the role of the INQUA Commissions) but it rather seeks to answer specific scientific questions.

IFGs should be open and inclusive, providing all interested scientists the opportunity to participate in their activities. The duration of an IFG is usually one inter-congress period (4 years).

What is The MPR?

The Mid-Pleistocene Revolution (MPR) was a period of profound ecosystem reconfiguration, caused by climatic changes driven by variations in orbital forcing that took place around 1 Ma. Changes in climate drastically affected vegetation in complex ways and led to a significant renewal of mammalian faunal complexes in Europe and elsewhere. In particular, it is generally accepted that those environmental changes affected the survival opportunities and the distribution patterns of humans in Europe. However, it is not well established how, where, when and at which extent the environment affected human population dynamics.

Contributors

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Why METHOD?

The study of complex phenomena requires the contribution and cooperation of researchers from several fields. During the last decades, palaeontologists, palaeoanthropologists and archaeologists produced spatio-temporal and taxonomically organized datasets describing hominin distribution and databases containing quantitative palaeoenvironmental and palaeoecological data. In parallel, several conceptual models have been proposed to explain the dynamics of the human colonization of Europe, and other continents, in this period. However, too often those models reflect the actual data only loosely or are based on selected data provided by a specific research field. Thus, a subsidiary aim of METHOD is to promote an active collaboration among researchers interested in understanding the dynamics of the first human populations, the specialists with knowledge on the ecological and environmental scenarios where that dynamic occurred, and the people with the skill to set up mathematical models, including mathematicians, physicists or engineers with experience in the study of complex systems through mathematical modelling.

Since the MPR was a planetary event, the IFG has a worldwide scope, though it is initially focused on Europe because the quality and quantity of available data are significantly higher for the western Eurasia than for other regions.

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