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Abrupt warming events drove Late Pleistocene Holarctic megafaunal turnover


Cooper, A and Turney, C and Hughen, KA and Brook, BW and McDonald, HG and Bradshaw, CJA, Abrupt warming events drove Late Pleistocene Holarctic megafaunal turnover, Science, 349, (6248) pp. 602-606. ISSN 0036-8075 (2015) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

2015 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All rights Reserved.

DOI: doi:10.1126/science.aac4315


The mechanisms of Late Pleistocene megafauna extinctions remain fiercely contested, with human impact or climate change cited as principal drivers. We compared ancient DNA and radiocarbon data from 31 detailed time series of regional megafaunal extinctions and replacements over the past 56,000 years with standard and new combined records of Northern Hemisphere climate in the Late Pleistocene. Unexpectedly, rapid climate changes associated with interstadial warming events are strongly associated with the regional replacement or extinction of major genetic clades or species of megafauna. The presence of many cryptic biotic transitions before the Pleistocene/Holocene boundary revealed by ancient DNA confirms the importance of climate change in megafaunal population extinctions and suggests that metapopulation structures necessary to survive such repeated and rapid climatic shifts were susceptible to human impacts.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:climate, extinction, aDNA
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Palaeoecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Terrestrial biodiversity
UTAS Author:Brook, BW (Professor Barry Brook)
ID Code:107162
Year Published:2015
Web of Science® Times Cited:181
Deposited By:Plant Science
Deposited On:2016-03-07
Last Modified:2017-11-01

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