malian genomes, making it feasible to collect high-resolution, whole-genome sequences of a range of mammals. This technology could be used to sample Homo sapiens and other mammalian populations with varying ecologies from all parts of Africa, to enable comparisons of genetic changes with climate changes over the past 200,000 years. Climatic changes could also be contrasted with estimated population sizes of H. sapiens and other mammals, based on population genetics parameters, during this time period.
Selected investigations of ecosystem dynamics through the collection of modern climate and calibration data will more accurately quantify the relationships between the environment and proxy records of the environment preserved in sediments and fossils. An important contribution to the understanding of evolutionary and environmental dynamics is the analysis of fauna and flora associated, geographically and temporally, with hominin fossils. An increased focus on adaptations in the faunal and floral assemblages associated with hominins—and by contrast, those that are not associated with hominins—will provide an invaluable resource for understanding the interaction between hominin evolution and past climates.
Development of the informatics and data archiving tools needed to provide permanent storage for the wide array of information collected by the activities listed above, and to facilitate continued access to this information. An important corollary requirement will be speedy community access to samples and their derived data within all of the disciplinary areas encompassed by this initiative—the hominin fossils and their associated fauna and flora; as well as the ocean, lake, and terrestrial drilling samples and data.
The coordination and management of a major international scientific program for International Climate and Human Evolution Research would require a science advisory structure, with members representing the broader scientific community and with a broad vision of how these research components relate to each other, to foster communication among disciplinary groups, coordinate the implementation elements, and convey the science community’s priorities to funding agencies. On the basis of community input, an advisory committee would establish and periodically update plans for exploration, drilling, and modeling, and prioritize regions to be investigated. This committee would require sufficient funding to sponsor a range of workshops and town meetings, spanning the full range of disciplines associated with this research enterprise, to obtain and distill community input.
The public is fascinated by media accounts and documentaries on human evolution and the long-term origin of our species. Additionally, climate change has become a focal point for public interest. The intersection of these two broad