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Millennial-scale faunal record reveals differential resilience of European large mammals to human impacts across the Holocene

Crees, JJ; Carbone, C; Sommer, RS; Benecke, N; Turvey, ST; (2016) Millennial-scale faunal record reveals differential resilience of European large mammals to human impacts across the Holocene. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences , 283 (1827) pp. 2015-2152. 10.1098/rspb.2015.2152. Green open access

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Abstract

The use of short-term indicators for understanding patterns and processes of biodiversity loss can mask longer-term faunal responses to human pressures. We use an extensive database of ~18,700 mammalian zooarchaeological records for the last 11,700 years across Europe to reconstruct spatiotemporal dynamics of Holocene range change for 15 large-bodied (>2kg) mammal species. European mammals experienced protracted, non-congruent range losses, with significant declines starting in some species ~3,000 years ago and continuing to the present, and with the timing, duration and magnitude of declines varying individually between species. Some European mammals became globally extinct during the Holocene, whereas others experienced limited or no significant range change. These findings demonstrate the relatively early onset of prehistoric human impacts on postglacial biodiversity, and mirror species-specific patterns of mammalian extinction during the Late Pleistocene. Herbivores experienced significantly greater declines than carnivores, revealing an important historical extinction filter that informs our understanding of relative resilience and vulnerability to human pressures for different taxa. We highlight the importance of large-scale, long-term datasets for understanding complex protracted extinction processes, although the dynamic pattern of progressive faunal depletion of European mammal assemblages across the Holocene challenges easy identification of ‘static’ past baselines to inform current-day environmental management and restoration.

Type: Article
Title: Millennial-scale faunal record reveals differential resilience of European large mammals to human impacts across the Holocene
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.2152
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2015.2152
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2016 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: environmental baselines, extinction filter, Late Quaternary, megafaunal extinction, range shifts, zooarchaeology
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1476597
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