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Emily Wiesendanger
PhD Research
Biodiversity and Ecology

The Late Pleistocene Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus, Linnaeus, 1758) of Britain and Western Europe: Past migrations, Seasonality and Palaeodiet

During the last glaciation, reindeer (Rangifer tarandus), a highly specialised cold adapted ungulate, was extremely common throughout Britain and Western Europe, in marked contrast to the vulnerability of the species today. This study will investigate the palaeobiogeography and palaeodiet of the species over a Late Pleistocene temporal transect and a geographical range from Britain to Germany, examining seasonality of site occupation through the recognition of seasonal aggregations in these bi-annual migrators, and reconstructing former migration pathways using Strontium isotope analysis. This will provide important insights into the impacts of climatic, environmental, and anthropogenic changes on reindeer ecology. It is anticipated that these variables could have had a considerable influence on fossil reindeer palaeodiet, as well as body mass variation. These elements will be reconstructed using dental microwear analysis and morphometrical characteristics respectively, thereby improving our understanding of the impacts of palaeoenvironmental change on this species and potentially identifying discrete ecotypes. To achieve this research, a modern training set will be compiled using skeletal and dental material from recent and historical specimens. Historical specimens will further provide insight into more recent morphological variations, particularly body mass, further elucidating the continuous impacts of climate and anthropogenic change on this ecologically vulnerable species.
Danielle Schreve
Ian Candy
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