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Réseau Thématique de Recherche Milieux & Diversité

ZA Timeline: Visualizing SES trajectory data on a timeline

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ZA Timeline: Visualizing SES trajectory data on a timeline

5e colloque des Zones Ateliers – CNRS 

2000-2020, 20 ans de recherche du Réseau des Zones Ateliers

SESSION 4 : Concepts et outils pour le suivi des socio-écosystèmes

ZA Timeline: Visualizing SES trajectory data on a timeline (ZA Environnementale Urbaine)

Isabelle Charpentier ∗ 2,1


2  Laboratoire des sciences de l’ingénieur, de l’informatique et de l’imagerie (ICube)  –  Université de Strasbourg,  CNRS : UMR7357 –  2, rue Boussingault  - F-67000  Strasbourg,  France

1  LTSER  France,  Zone Atelier Environnementale  Urbaine (ZAEU) –  Add this new organization –  3, rue de l’Argonne, F-67000  Strasbourg,  France


Spatio-temporal  data of biodiversity,  population or climate as well as socio-cultural mile- stones...    are among  the  data collected  by  the  French  Long Term  Socio-Ecological  Research (LTSER) network, namely Réseau des Zones Ateliers (RZA),  to capture biophysical and socio- logical processes occurring in the socio-ecosystems (SESs)  under study.

Several conceptual frameworks were proposed to analyze external drivers and practices that im- pact and modify SES components such as stocks, processes, ecosystemic services or disservices. Among them, timelines are particular representation.  As quoted in Sheps (wikipedia),  the capi- tal use of the Charts is an excellent mechanical help to the knowledge of history, impressing the imagination indelibly with a just image of the rise, progress, extent, duration, and contemporary state of all the considerable empires that have ever existed in the world.

Timelines are precious tools to:

+ report on data availability for the different proxies and their individual trend,

+ report on external events, or unusual facts,

+ facilitate the analysis of complex inter-relationships,

+ identify/justify  data shortage,

+ invite researchers to fill the gaps.


The  variety  of data tells  us about  the  scientific focus and expertise  of the  timeline  produc- ers. Voids in the chart could indicate a lack of interdisciplinarity.

Drawing remains painful.  Very  few software are proposed.  Among them,  Office Timeline  pro builds on PowerPoint  and formatted Excel spreadsheets.  However, information that can be rep- resented remains limited, notably in terms of interactions.

The ZATimeline software is a contribution to the analysis of SES trajectories based on data spreadsheets storing key elements of the SES history and time series availability.  Data format is key point.  ZATimeline builds on Excel/Libreoffice spreadsheets to facilitate data management. Then, a dedicated, free of use, Matlab interface builds charts from these formatted spreadsheets. Format définition and representation are an ongoing work to be carried out within the ATHN2 group.

”Easter island/Rapa Nui” SES is chosen as a case study.  Firstly,  data were collected in scientific reports for the period ranging from the Polynesian  colonization to the European colonization (1200  - 1888)  to figure out and analyze the so-called ”collapse” hypothesis  of "Easter Island". Secondly,  data were collected in Spanish sources to document the historical period ranging from the Chilean annexation to date (1888 –  2020) in order to outline the environmental impacts of sheeps and tourists on ”Isla de Pascua”.  Third,  researches were conducted using ”Rapa Nui” as a keyword to observe the contemporary phase and their re-appropriation of land and culture.


ZATimeline operated on Easter Island/Isla de Pascua/Rapa Nui clearly figures Human-Nature interactions and notably tipping points in Easter Island governance, cultual and cultural prac- tices, populations (human, flora, fauna), climate and their interrelations.

This software is currently used in 6 research projects carried out by 4 ZA.


Programme et recueil des résumés à télécharger dans l'onglet documents ci-dessus.

Toutes les informations sur le site du colloque :



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