A remote community in Ireland was adaptable enough to persist through a millennium of environmental change. This is according to a study published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Gill Plunkett and Graeme Swindles of Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland, U.K.
There are numerous examples of past societies severely impacted by environmental changes. This includes climate change, natural disasters, and other dramatic ecological shifts contributing to food crises, epidemics, and other calamities.
It is more difficult to determine the long-term effects of environmental disturbances. Scientists examine environmental and community changes over a thousand years of occupation in the Antrim Plateau in the north of Ireland.
This study analyzed a peat core recording environmental changes over the last millennium at a site called Slieveanorra. Scientists inferred environmental and human occupation changes with data from microbes, natural plants and crop plants. They established fine-scale dating with ash layers, organic remains, and historical accounts. Their record provided no evidence of long-term disruption to human occupation related to environmental changes.
These results reflect a community that was able to either escape the effects of environmental change. This surprising resilience from a relatively remote occupation was likely the result of social factors which made the community flexible and adaptable.
In the face of environmental change. Scientists suggested not all human communities respond the same way and this variation is largely linked to the social conditions of each respective population. Understanding this complexity is key to understanding what conditions make communities vulnerable to cultural collapse in the face of environmental change.