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Robert S. Feranec

Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology and Curator of Mammals

NY State Museum, Albany

Investigations into the paleoecology of ancient humans reveals evidence of niche conservatism in large mammals during the Pleistocene of Europe

February 3, 2014

Academic Building A G008, 5:00 PM

Cosponsored with the Department of Anthropology

Abstract

Stable isotope investigations of the paleoecological contexts for ancient humans over multiple Pleistocene glacial and interglacial cycles revealed both insights into human paleoecology, and evidence that the large mammal fauna conserved their niches.  Niche conservatism suggests that species maintain their ecological characteristics over time, which has implications for speciation and creation of biodiversity. This study focuses on identifying diet and habitat use in mammals, and specifically tests the hypothesis that species maintain their ecology and ecological relationships over spatial and temporal scales during the Pleistocene of Europe. To determine the ecology of ancient species, stable carbon and oxygen isotope values from the tooth enamel of ancient humans and other large mammals were examined. Overall, the data show limited isotopic differences over time and between localities implying that species maintained their ecology.  These data support the tested hypothesis as well as the concept of niche conservatism in Pleistocene European mammals.

Biography

Dr. Robert S. Feranec is, at present, the Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology and Curator of Mammals at the NY State Museum in Albany.  His research is focused on understanding how ecology changes in mammals over time.  For his academic training, Dr. Feranec received his undergraduate degree at Syracuse University, his Master’s in Geology at the University of Florida, and his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley.  Just prior to his appointment at the State Museum he was a post-doctoral fellow at Stanford University.  He and his family currently reside in Schenectady.

 

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