Early–Middle Pleistocene structural changes in mammalian communities from the Italian peninsula
Published:January 01, 2005
Maria R. Palombo, Pasquale Raia, Caterina Giovinazzo, 2005. "Early–Middle Pleistocene structural changes in mammalian communities from the Italian peninsula", Early–Middle Pleistocene Transitions: The Land–Ocean Evidence, M.J. Head, P.L. Gibbard
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The late Early and Middle Pleistocene mammal fossil record of Italy has been revised by grouping faunal lists into discrete faunal complexes, termed cluster units, by means of bootstrapped cluster analysis which allows the evaluation of group partition sharpness. These complexes have been compared with previously erected Italian biochrons and then analysed for their body size (by cenogram analysis) and diversity trends. Some considerations about changes in predator-prey ratios are made. It is shown that diversity increased sharply at the onset of the middle Galerian mammal age, coincident with the well-known shift from 40 to 100 ka glacial-interglacial periodicity. This increased diversity was entirely driven by the concurrent arrival in Italy of some large ungulates. Cenograms reveal that the climate became wetter and markedly cooler following the arid conditions that characterize the late Early Pleistocene. Wetter environments are generally expected to sustain a higher proportion of large herbivore species. Because carnivore species did not respond in the same way, the predator-prey ratio changed in favour of prey. In summary, the transition from Early to Middle Pleistocene faunas (from early to middle Galerian mammal ages) represents a major reorganization in the large-mammal complexes from the Italian peninsula. This was reflected in both the diversity and trophic structure of large-mammal communities.
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Early–Middle Pleistocene Transitions: The Land–Ocean Evidence
The Early–Middle Pleistocene transition (around 1.2 to 0.5 Ma) marks a profound shift in Earth’s climate state. Low-amplitude 41 ka climate cycles, dominating the earlier part of the Pleistocene, gave way progressively to a 100 ka rhythm of increased amplitude that characterizes our present glacial—interglacial world. This volume assesses the biotic and physical response to this transition both on land and in the oceans: indeed it examines the very nature of Quaternary climate change. Milankovitch theory, palaeoceanography using isotopes and microfossils, marine organic geochemistry, tephrochronology, the record of loess and soil deposition, terrestrial vegetationa! change, and the migration and evolution of hominins as well as other large and small mammals, are all considered. These themes combine to explore the very origins of our present biota.