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Title: Faunal and human biogeography during the Terminal Pleistocene
Author: Knul, Monika Vlasta
ISNI:       0000 0004 7961 539X
Awarding Body: Bournemouth University
Current Institution: Bournemouth University
Date of Award: 2019
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The evocative megafauna of the mammoth steppe, such as woolly mammoths and woolly rhinos, are part of a complex and changing faunal and environmental system. The dynamic processes leading to faunal change (including extinction) are currently not fully understood. In order to unravel these biogeographical processes, which may take decennia up to millennia, the latter part of the Pleistocene (60-10 thousand years ago) that involved large and irregular climate changes in Europe was investigated. This project aimed to gain better understanding of the biogeographical processes of the mammals in this period. This was done by collecting published data on faunal assemblages and their respective radiocarbon dates. There are differences in the accuracy and reliability of the radiocarbon dates. To separate these, this thesis presents a standardised way of auditing radiocarbon dates to improve the comparison of studies in Palaeolithic Europe. The changes in biogeographical ranges were studied based on the presence of mammal species throughout Europe. Species distribution modelling of current climatic niches provided a new quantifiable framework for defining the ecology of mammals in Europe today to enable the reconstruction of past environments. Based on this framework, this thesis investigated the non- analogue communities of the Late Pleistocene. The ecological niche models based on present-day distributions found that non-analogue combinations were unlikely in the past, although the data used may not reflect all climatic and biogeographic variability and so there were likely fleeting combinations of taxa not seen today. Finally, the most famous, extinct and therefore non-analogue, taxon was investigated in detail: the Neanderthal. The climatic niche of the Neanderthal was explored with climatic niche modelling. The models confirm the Neanderthal was a temperate adapted taxon that retreated to the southwest of Europe during MIS3. Furthermore, the climatic niche model shows a tentative link where the Greenland Stadials had a negative impact on the distribution of the projected climatic niche in both climatic and geographic space. This thesis therefore provides an integrated study with new frameworks and results on the biogeographic ranges of mammals in past environments, that are relevant for multiple disciplines such as archaeology, palaeontology, ecology and phylogeography.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available