The biophysical effects of Neolithic island colonization: general dynamics and sociocultural implications

03 Oct 2017

Does anthropogenic environmental change constrain long-term sociopolitical outcomes? It is clear that human colonization of islands radically alters their biological and physical systems. Despite considerable contextual variability in the local specificities of this alteration, in this paper I argue that these processes are to some extent regular, predictable, and have socio-political implications. Reviewing the data for post-colonization ecodynamics, I show that Neolithic colonization of previously insulated habitats drives biotic homogenization. I argue that we should expect such homogenization to promote regular types of change in biophysical systems, types of change that can be described in sum as environmentally convergent. Such convergence should have significant implications for human social organization over the long term, and general dynamics of this sort are relevant in the context of understanding remarkably similar social evolutionary trajectories towards wealth-inequality not only islands, but also more generally.