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How can a database full of Bugs help reconstruct the climate?
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Archaeology and Sami Studies. (Miljöarkeologiska laboratoriet)
2002 (English)In: Archaeological Informatics - Pushing the Envelope - CAA 2001 - Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology: Proceedings of the 29th Conference, Gotland, April 2001, British Archaeological Reports , 2002, 453-461 p.Conference paper (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The BUGS Insect Ecology Package was originally constructed (using Dbase and Clipper) to compile Coleoptera (beetle) habitat and distribution data from a myriad of sources into one, easy to use, and publicly available database. Its primary users were researchers and teachers within the palaeoentomology field. The present system, five versions and many revisions later, is built in MS Access 2000, and covers some 5300 species, 2000 references, and 240 sites (archaeological and Quaternary), and is of value to archaeologists, ecologists, and conservationists alike.

BUGS is essentially a relational database management system constructed around three components:

- the species data (modern ecology and distribution)

- the bibliography

- the site data with species lists

Its implementation in several institutions has greatly accelerated the efficiency with which palaeoentomological investigations can be carried out, and greatly improved the teaching of the subject.

Palaeoenvironmental reconstructions are performed by the superimposition of the ecology and distribution of modern insect populations over fossil assemblages. At the moment, this is essentially performed semi-quantitatively by cross-reference of the data (which BUGS collates for a species list and then exports as an RTF file to any word processing package). BUGS contains a wealth of ecological data which can be employed in the interpretation of archaeological sites and contexts. In natural deposits, away from the artificial heat islands created by human activity, insect distributions are essentially constrained by climatic parameters. Tim Atkinson (UEA) and Dave Perry (formerly at Birmingham University) digitally encoded the temperature range data for over 400 species into a program for the calculation of palaeoclimates through the MCR (Mutual Climatic Range) method, and this has been extensively used in the modelling of Quaternary climates from beetle remains. The aim of our present phase of BUGS development is to implement MCR functionality into the BUGS database system. From this point it should be possible to move on to other ecological variables such as habitat and vegetation types, and increase the precision of modern climatic data, thus enhancing the value of insects in archaeological interpretation and the modelling of past climates.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
British Archaeological Reports , 2002. 453-461 p.
Keyword [en]
Climate change, Coleoptera, beetles, MCR, mutual climatic range, database, bugs
National Category
Archaeology Ecology Climate Research Geology
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-10749OAI: diva2:150420
Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology. CAA 2001.
Available from: 2008-10-30 Created: 2008-10-30 Last updated: 2015-09-09

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