Responses of Late Quaternary megafauna to climate and humans

In a proverbial “mammoth project”, Lorenzen and colleagues report in this weeks issue of Nature on the responses of six Late Quaternary megafauna herbivores (woolly rhinoceros, woolly mammoth, horse, reindeer/caribou, bison and musk ox) to climate and humans. The authors draw on various data sources, in particular species distribution models and ancient DNA, to “reconstruct the demographic histories of the megafauna herbivores […], model past species distributions and determine the geographical overlap between humans and megafauna over the past 50,000 years.” One of their main aims is to understand why some of these species went extinct and what sets them apart from other who didn’t. The authors stress the potential of this historical data to address current environmental challenges. Interesting from a methodological viewpoint: the use of approximate Bayesian computation for model-selection (see also our review paper).

Figure: Best-supported demographic models inferred by approximate Bayesian computation model-selection. From Lorentzen et al., copyright: Nature.

One thought on “Responses of Late Quaternary megafauna to climate and humans

  1. Pingback: Insights into hominid evolution from the gorilla genome sequence « theoretical ecology

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