WESTERN MEDITERRANEAN ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE DURING THE LATE QUATERNARY USING SMALL-MAMMAL ASSEMBLAGES
Juan Manuel López-García
1. IPHES, Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social, Campus Sescelades URV, Edifici W3, 43007 Tarragona, Spain. 2. Àrea de Prehistòria, Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV), Avinguda de Catalunya 35, 43002 Tarragona, Spain
Keywords: Insectivores, Bats, Rodents, Late Pleistocene, Holocene
Abstract

The knowledge of palaeoenvironment and palaeoclimate during the late Pleistocene and the beginning of the Holocene is one of the main studied topics of the last decades by multitude of disciplines, including the research on small mammals. Moreover, the environmental and climatic data obtained using the small-mammal assemblages allow us to observe how our ancestors lived, showing for example that independently of climatic fluctuations Neanderthals and Anatomic Modern Humans (AMH) inhabited, in general, in landscapes surrounded by forest formations.

Article Information

Identifiers and Pagination:
Year:2018
Volume:3
First Page:1
Last Page:4
Publisher Id:Adv Geosci (2018 ). 3. 1-4
Article History:
Received:October 20, 2018
Accepted:November 5, 2017
Collection year:2018
First Published:December 21, 2018

The knowledge of palaeoenvironment and palaeoclimate during the late Pleistocene and the beginning of the Holocene is one of the main studied topics of the last decades by multitude of disciplines, including the research on small mammals (Fig. 1).

Figure 1. Example of the small mammal assemblage from the Cova del Gegant (Sitges, Barcelona, Norheastern Iberia). (A) m1 right Iberomys cabrerae; (B) m1 right Microtus arvalis; (C) M1 right Apodemus sylvaticus; (D) P4–M1 left Eliomys quercinus; (E) m1 left Rhinolophus ferrumequinum; (F) humerus Myotis myotis; (G) humerus Miniopterus schreibersii. The material represented comes from layer V with the exception of the Microtus arvalis tooth, which comes from layer III. Modified from [9]

It is widely demonstrated that micromammals (insectivores, bats and rodents), thanks to the fact that they are mostly susceptible to changes in temperature, precipitation and environment, are good indicators of the changes in landscape and climatic fluctuations produced in the past. [López-García, et al., 2014; Lopez-García, et al., 2014].

Figure 2. Example of approximate correlation between the average (D) mean annual temperature (MAT), mean temperature of coldest month (MTC), mean temperature of warmest month (MTW) and mean annual precipitation (MAP) obtained with small-vertebrate assemblages of the studied sites and the NorthGRIP isotope oxygen curve and the Albora´n sea surface temperatures. H, Heinrich Events, LGM, Late Glacial Maximum; G, Gegant level III; AR, Abric Romani ´; X, Xaragalls level C4; C, Cueva del Conde level N20b; Arb, l’Arbreda cave; TC, Canyars; GC, Galls Carboners; MTV-CH, Maltavieso-Chimeneas; P, El Portalon level P1; Val, Valdavara 1 lower unit. Modified from [6]

Figure 3. Example of representation of landscape percentages, mean annual temperature (MAT), mean temperature of the warmest month (MTW), mean temperature of the coldest month (MTC), mean annual precipitation (MAP) and the small-mammal Simpson diversity Index (1-D), from the Fumane cave (Verona,  Northeastern Italy) sequence. Red rectangles represents warm conditions; Blue rectangles represents the cold conditions. Modified form [López-García, et al., 2012].

The interest for the development of these studies during this period lies in two main issues closely related: 1) detect the rapid fluctuations produced during the late Quaternary; 2) observed how the environmental and climatic changes affected the hominin populations. Taking into account this context, various methods (such as Habitat Weighting, Mutual Ecogeographic Range, Bioclimatic Model, Diversity Index or Chorotypes method) [Andrews, 2006; Blain et al., 2016; Hernandez, 2001; Magurran & McGill, 2011; Sans-Fuentes et al., 2000] are applied to small-mammal assemblages to try to reconstruct the environment and climate in western Mediterranean region, mainly focused on a score of late Pleistocene and early Holocene archaeo-paleontological sites, coming from the Italian and the Iberian peninsulas. The results obtained applying these methods to the small-mammal assemblages allow us to detect various climatic fluctuation, such as various cold Heinrich Events, the Bølling-Allerød interstadial or the late Pleistocene-Holocene transition (Fig. 2)

Moreover, the environmental and climatic data obtained using the small-mammal assemblages allow us to observe how our ancestors lived, showing for example that independently of climatic fluctuations Neanderthals and Anatomic Modern Humans (AMH) inhabited, in general, in landscapes surrounded by forest formations (Fig. 3) [López-García, et al., 2015].

References

Andrews, P., 2006. Taphonomic effects of faunal impoverishment and faunal mixing. Palaeogeogr. Palaeoclimatol. Palaeoecol. 241, 572-589

Blain, H.A., Lozano-Fernández, I., Agustí, J., Bailon, S., Menéndez Granda, L., Espígares Ortiz, M.P., Ros-Montoya, S., Jiménez Arenas, J.M., Toro-Moyano, I., MartínezNavarro, B., Sala, R., 2016. Refining upon the climatic background of the Early Pleistocene hominid settlement in western Europe: Barranco León and Fuente Nueva-3 (Guadix-Baza Basin, SE Spain). Quat. Sci. Rev. 144, 132–144

Hernandez-Fernández, M., 2001. Bioclimatic discriminant capacity of terrestrial mammal faunas. Glob. Ecol. Biogeogr. 10, 189-204

Magurran, A.E., McGill, B.J., 2011. Biological Diversity: Frontiers in Measurements and Assessment. Oxford University Press, New York

Sans-Fuentes, M.A., Ventura, J., 2000. Distribution patterns of the small mammals (Insectivora and Rodentia) in a transitional zone between the Eurosiberian and the Mediterranean regions. J. Biogeogr. 27, 755–764.

López-García, J.M., Blain, H.-A., Bennàsar, M., Alcover, J.A., Bañuls-Cardona, S., Fernández-García, M., Fontanals, M., Martín, P., Morales, J.I., Muñoz, L., Pedro, M., Vergés, J.M., 2014. Climate and landscape during Heinrich Event 3 in south-western Europe: the small-vertebrate association from Galls Carboners cave (Mont-ral, Tarragona, north-eastern Iberia). J. Quat. Sci. 29, 130–140.

Lopez-García, J.M., Berto, C., Colamussi, V., Dalla Valle, C., Lo Vetro, D., Luzi, E.,  Malavasi, G., Martini, F., Sala, B., 2014. Palaeoenvironmental and palaeoclimatic reconstruction of the latest Pleistocene-Holocene sequence from Grotta del Romito (Calabria, southern Italy) using the small-mammal assemblages. Palaeogeogr. Palaeoclimatol. Palaeoecol. 409, 169-179

López-García, J.M., Dalla Valle, C., Cremaschi, M., Peresani, M., 2015. Reconstruction of the Neanderthal and Modern Human landscape and climate from the Fumane cave sequence (Verona, Italy) using small-mammal assemblages. Quat. Sci. Rev. 128, 1–13.


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Editor in Chief
Angela Calia (Ph.D)
Senior Researcher, National Research Council (CNR) Institute of Archaeological Heritage. Monument and Sites (IBAM) University Campus Prov.le Lecce - Monteroni 73100 Lecce Italy

Bibliography

Prof. Dr. Angela Calia Ph.D is Senior Researcher, National Research Council (CNR) Institute of Archaeological Heritage. Monument and Sites (IBAM) University Campus Prov.le Lecce - Monteroni 73100 Lecce Italy. Her research interest include Geology, Geochemistry, Environment, Thin Films and Nanotechnology, Mineralogy, Engineering Geology, Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage and Petrophysics. Prof. Calia has recently completed the research project entitled “NDT evaluation of historic masonries structures” and “Microscopic techniques and multi-analytical approach for the knowledge and conservation of materials and artifacts of the Cultural Heritage”. 

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