Published on November 1st, 2020 | by Liz Martin-Silverstone0
Episode 116: Ice Age Palaeoecology
When we think about the Ice Age or the Pleistocene, we generally think of large animals: woolly mammoths trudging through snow, sabre-tooth tigers taking down their next meal, and big bison out on the steppes. These are really interesting things to think about, but what else can we learn from the Pleistocene other than about big animals and their extinction?
We can also use the Pleistocene (which is relatively similar to the modern world in terms of continental layout, landscapes, and ecological niche availability) to explore questions of palaeoecology, biotic interactions and how changes in the environment can affect the local fauna. The relatively young age of the Pleistocene means that the available data is very different to palaeoecological studies of the Cretaceous or Eocene. This makes study of the Pleistocene much more appropriate for drawing comparisons to what’s happening today or what might happen in the future with climate change.
Joining us in this interview is Dr Jacquelyn Gill, an Associate Professor at the University of Maine, who works in palaeoecology. We talk about the different data available, the importance of understanding palaeoecology, including a recent paper from her group on seabird ecology in the Falklands, and what this might mean for the future.