Reconstructing ecology and extinction dynamics for the Late Quaternary Chinese megafauna

Theme: Past Life & Environments

Primary Supervisor:

Louise Martin

Archaeology, UCL

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Secondary Supervisor:

Samuel Turvey

Biodiversity and Macroecology Theme, IOZ

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Project Description:

The timing, drivers, and magnitude of Late Quaternary extinctions in China are poorly understood, in contrast to other parts of the world and despite extensive regional fossil and zooarchaeological records. The studentship will use multiple research techniques and Chinese institutional collections (to which we have good access through established collaborations) to quantify ecological characteristics of Chinese megafauna and palaeoenvironments, and critically examine dynamics of regional faunal turnover.

Tooth microwear and stable isotope analyses will characterize species niche partitioning and relationships between trophic status and extinction risk, and reconstruct changing Quaternary environments. GIS analysis of dated records will quantify and model spatio-temporal changes in megafaunal species abundances, range contraction and extinction. Analysis of bone surface modification and faunal zooarchaeological associations will define past human interactions with now-extinct species.

Policy Impact of Research:

These complementary research approaches will consolidate a much stronger understanding of patterns and processes of large mammal extinction in China, providing new insights into megafaunal vulnerability and resilience, and conservation lessons to inform management of Asia’s threatened mammal fauna.

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