Late Glacial rapid climate change and human response in the Westernmost Mediterranean (Iberia and Morocco)

PLoS One. 2019 Dec 4;14(12):e0225049. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0225049. eCollection 2019.


This paper investigates the correlation between climate, environment and human land use in the Westernmost Mediterranean on both sides of the Strait of Gibraltar during the Late Glacial. Using a multi-proxy approach on a sample of 300 sites from the Solutrean and Magdalenian of the Iberian Peninsula and from the Iberomaurusian in Morocco, we find evidence for significant changes in settlement patterns and site density after the Last Glacial Maximum. In Southern Iberia, during Heinrich Stadial 1, hyperarid zones expanded drastically from the south-eastern coast to the West through the Interior. This aridification process heavily affected Magdalenian settlement in the South and caused a strong decline of hunter-gatherer population. Southern Iberia during Heinrich Stadial 1 turned out to be a high-risk environment when compared to Northern Iberia. At the same time, the Late Iberomaurusian of Morocco, although considered to be situated in a high-risk environment as well, experiences an increase of sites and expansion of settlement area.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture*
  • Climate Change*
  • Human Migration
  • Humans
  • Mediterranean Region
  • Radiometric Dating
  • Soil / chemistry


  • Soil

Grant support

The study was conducted in the framework of the Collaborative Research Centre 806 “Our Way to Europe”, funded by the German Research Foundation ( The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.