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Micro Methods for Megafauna: Novel Approaches to Late Quaternary Extinctions and Their Contributions to Faunal Conservation in the Anthropocene


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Swift, JA, Bunce, M, Dortch, J, Douglass, K, Faith, JT, Fellows Yates, JA, Field, J, Haberle, SG, Jacob, E, Johnson, CN ORCID: 0000-0002-9719-3771, Lindsey, E, Lorenzen, ED, Louys, J, Miller, G, Mychajliw, AM, Slon, V, Villavicencio, NA, Waters, MR, Welker, F, Wood, R, Petraglia, M, Boivin, N and Roberts, P 2019 , 'Micro Methods for Megafauna: Novel Approaches to Late Quaternary Extinctions and Their Contributions to Faunal Conservation in the Anthropocene' , BioScience, vol. 69, no. 11 , pp. 877-887 , doi: 10.1093/biosci/biz105.

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Drivers of Late Quaternary megafaunal extinctions are relevant to modern conservation policy in a world of growing human population density, climate change, and faunal decline. Traditional debates tend toward global solutions, blaming either dramatic climate change or dispersals of Homo sapiens to new regions. Inherent limitations to archaeological and paleontological data sets often require reliance on scant, poorly resolved lines of evidence. However, recent developments in scientific technologies allow for more local, context-specific approaches. In the present article, we highlight how developments in five such methodologies (radiocarbon approaches, stable isotope analysis, ancient DNA, ancient proteomics, microscopy) have helped drive detailed analysis of specific megafaunal species, their particular ecological settings, and responses to new competitors or predators, climate change, and other external phenomena. The detailed case studies of faunal community composition, extinction chronologies, and demographic trends enabled by these methods examine megafaunal extinctions at scales appropriate for practical understanding of threats against particular species in their habitats today.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Swift, JA and Bunce, M and Dortch, J and Douglass, K and Faith, JT and Fellows Yates, JA and Field, J and Haberle, SG and Jacob, E and Johnson, CN and Lindsey, E and Lorenzen, ED and Louys, J and Miller, G and Mychajliw, AM and Slon, V and Villavicencio, NA and Waters, MR and Welker, F and Wood, R and Petraglia, M and Boivin, N and Roberts, P
Keywords: paleontology, ecosystem change, biodiversity
Journal or Publication Title: BioScience
Publisher: Amer Inst Biological Sci
ISSN: 0006-3568
DOI / ID Number: 10.1093/biosci/biz105
Copyright Information:

© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Institute of Biological Sciences. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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