David Arnold

David Arnold

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David Arnold

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Start Year

2015 (Cohort 2)

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PhD Project
PhD Title

Assessing the extent of semi-arid environments in Late Quaternary Eurasia using mammalian evidence: implications for understanding ecological and human responses to abrupt climate change.

Research Theme

Past Life and Environments

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The Late Pleistocene is a period characterised by abrupt and rapid shifts in climate in Europe, including evidence of spreading semi-arid environments across the wider region, highlighted by immigration of arid-adapted mammals such as jerboa, steppe lemming and saiga antelope. However, a major barrier to our understanding of faunal (and hominin) responses to past environmental change, as well as to our ability to constrain uncertainty in palaeoclimate modelling, is the current lack of quantitative estimates of precipitation across this time period at both a representative spatial scale and within a good chronological framework. This study will investigate sites with arid-adapted fauna across N-S and E-W transects across Europe and place them in a radiocarbon chronology, before refining a method of using mammalian dental characteristics in herbivores to identify changes in diet and hence, in vegetation type, providing a direct link to precipitation. This has been used successfully in older Neogene assemblages to identify periods of aridity but has not previously been applied to Quaternary vertebrates.

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