A global spatially explicit database of changes in island paleo-area and archipelago configuration during the late Quaternary

Norder, S.J., Baumgartner, J.B., Borges, P.A.V., Hengl, T., Kissling, W.D., Van Loon, E.E. & Rijsdijk, K.F. (2018) A global spatially explicit database of changes in island paleo-area and archipelago configuration during the late Quaternary. 

Global Ecology and Biogeography, 27, 500-505. DOI:10.1111/geb.12715 (IF2018 5,667; Q1 Ecology)
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  • Jan, 2018


Motivation: Past sea level fluctuations have shaped island area and archipelago configuration. The availability of global high resolution data on bathymetry and past sea levels allows reconstruction of island paleogeography. Studies on the role of paleo-area often only consider the last glacial maximum, which neglects the dynamics of island fusion and fission resulting from cyclic sea level fluctuations over the Quaternary. Currently, no global database is available to test the role of changing island geographies driven by Quaternary sea level change on evolutionary, ecological, and archaeological patterns. However, data on island paleo environments is crucial for understanding insular biodiversity distributions and human settlement patterns. Here, we present the Paleo Islands and Archipelago Configuration (PIAC) database, containing sea level driven paleogeography changes over the late Quaternary of 178 islands in 27 archipelagos, and discuss its relevance, limitations and uncertainties. The R functions developed to calculate archipelago configuration and island paleo-area are provided to allow calculations for other islands, time steps, sea-level curves, and higher spatiotemporal resolutions.

Main types of variable contained: Polygon shapefiles with archipelago configuration and tables with paleo-area per island.

Spatial location and grain: The database has a global representation, with 27 archipelagos being covered: Aldabra, Azores, Balearic Islands, California Channel Islands, Canary Islands, Cape Verde, Comoros, Cook Islands, Crozet Islands, Dutch Caribbean, Galápagos, Gulf of Guinea, Hawaii, Inner Seychelles, Juan Fernández, Kuril Islands, Madeira, Marianas, Marquesas, Mascarenes, Phoenix Islands, Pitcairn Islands, Prince Edward Islands, Revillagigedo, Samoan Islands, Society Islands, and Tristan da Cunha. All data are at 1km2 spatial resolution.

Time period and grain: The focus of this paper is on the last 35ka; data for the last 140ka are also provided. The grain is 1ka temporal resolution.

Level of measurement: Data are per island, grouped per archipelago.

Software format: The data were produced in the R programming language.