The Kaleidoscope of Mammalian Faunas during the Terminal Pleistocene and Holocene in the Southern Levant

Guy Bar-Oz, Lior Weissbrod

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Abstract

The southern Levant experienced losses in mammalian biodiversity since the end of the Pleistocene. This process was more gradual than coeval extinctions in the Americas and Australia. We review data on mammalian communities mainly from Holocene archaeological sites and compare temporal losses and gains of species among size groups of medium-large and small mammals, with markedly differing ecological functions. Species presence vs absence through time within the Mediterranean ecoregion reveals that episodes of local extirpation punctuated the entire Holocene, particularly its later half. The timing of these episodes in the medium-large mammals and the more reduced intensity of such extinctions among small mammals, suggest that likely causes combined direct persecution by human hunters with species-specific vulnerabilities to habitat fragmentation and persistence in anthropogenically modified environments. This distinct south Levantine trajectory is attributed to the complex biogeography of the region, the resulting sensitivity of many local species, which are on the edge of their range of distribution, and long history of pervasive human environmental intervention.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationQuaternary of the Levant: Environments, Climate Change, and Humans
EditorsOfer Bar-Yosef, Yehouda Enzel
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Pages363-368
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9781107090460
DOIs
StatePublished - 2017

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