The Human Factor

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Science  09 Mar 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6073, pp. 1180-1181
DOI: 10.1126/science.1219903


How did early farming cultures affect the surrounding vegetation? Did their activities disturb the forest beyond their fields, or was their land use compatible with natural developments? On page 1219 of this issue, Bayon et al. (1) report an important step toward answering this question by showing that climatic changes alone cannot explain the vegetation changes that occurred in West Central Africa between 2000 and 3000 years ago.