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Ecology of Pleistocene mammals at hominid-bearing sites in Spain

Due to the late dispersal of humans into North America, it is difficult to understand the long-term effects of humans on ecosystems, especially their effects on fauna involved in the end-Pleistocene extinction. For this project, I am collaborating with Dr. Nuria Garcia and Dr. Juan-Luiz Arsuaga of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain. Here, we are examining the ecology of mammals from hominid-bearing sites across the Pleistocene of Europe. These sites will make an excellent comparison to the Pleistocene sites I have already examined from North America, and allow me to assess the influence that humans have on ecology in taxa throughout the Pleistocene. The initial results of this project have been published in the Journal of Archaeological Science. The results from these studies will allow us to answer: (1) Do humans have a large and long-term effect on the ecology of mammals. (2) Are there particular times during the Pleistocene that humans have greater effects on animal ecology? (3) Do humans have a particular type of ecosystem that they prefer to live? Our current concentration is examining cave sites in northern Spain.

Related publications

Garcia, N., Feranec, R., Arsuaga, J. L., Bermudez de Castro, J. M., and Carbonell, C. 2009. Isotopic Analysis of the Ecology of Herbivores and Carnivores from the Middle Pleistocene Deposits of the Sierra de Atapuerca, Northern Spain. Journal of Archaeological Science 36:1142-1151.

Feranec, R. S. 2008. Using Stable Isotopes as an Additional Tool to Understand Ancient Human Environments. Coloquios de Paleontologia 58:7-11.

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