Research Objectives

TRADITION brings together a multidisciplinary and transnational research team to address four Specific Objectives:

Investigate the importance of coastal resources to pre-Columbian populations with the introduction of ceramics and agriculture:

The earliest evidence of coastal exploitation in the Atlantic Forest dates back 8,000 years ago, when much of the coast was occupied by pre-ceramic hunter-gatherers4. Around 3,000 years ago, ceramic using groups appear on the coast, bringing with them the first evidence of agriculture5; however, whether coastal resources continued to be exploited to the same degree as before is unclear6,7,8. We will collect high resolution datasets regarding the diet, culinary practices and economy of these coastal communities before and after the establishment of food production. TRADITION will test the hypothesis that the introduction of agriculture radically changed the scale and nature of coastal exploitation in this region.

Assess the impact of climate and environmental change on coastal populations:

Subtropical and tropical coastal areas are particularly sensitive to climate change and several lines of evidence point to increased precipitation and intensification of El Nino events in eastern South America from approximately 3000 years ago9. Combined with the effects of local sea level change, increased rainfall transformed the region’s rich aquatic ecotones, such as estuaries and coastal lagoons10,11. TRADITION will determine whether climate and environmental factors have affected the exploitation of coastal resources in pre-Columbian times to help clarify the role of coastal environments in building long-term socio-ecological resilience and adaptive capacity to environmental changes.

Assess the socio-economic development of small-scale fisheries in the context of colonisation and urbanization of the Atlantic Forest coast of Brazil:

The Atlantic Forest provided the arena for the first contact between Europeans and native South Americans in Brazil, the introduction of non-native crops and livestock, the world’s largest trade of African slaves, and the beginning of urbanization in Brazil. Fish and fisheries have been largely neglected in this convoluted historical process12, leaving the extent the fisheries contributed to the socio-economic development of urban centres unclear. TRADITION will investigate the rich historical and archaeological records available in key urban centers of Brazil to assess the socio-economic and cultural dimensions of small-scale fisheries during the colonisation and urbanization of the Atlantic rainforest coast.

Investigate how historical practices and events have shaped current small-scale coastal communities, and whether this knowledge may benefit current management strategies:

Previous studies have contributed to our understanding of the socio-cultural aspects of modern small-scale fisheries along the Atlantic Forest coast of Brazil13, 14. These studies are restricted to a few generations however, lacking sufficient time depth to provide a comprehensive evaluation of long-term interactions between society, culture and coastal environment. TRADITION will collect ethnographic information to analyse the socio-economic and cultural profile of coastal communities in the context of archaeological and historical data.