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Sci Adv. 2016 Jun 17;2(6):e1501682. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1501682. eCollection 2016 Jun.

Synergistic roles of climate warming and human occupation in Patagonian megafaunal extinctions during the Last Deglaciation.

Author information

1
Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, School of Biological Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia 5005, Australia.; Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Ramaley Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0334, USA.
2
Climate Change Research Centre, School of Biological, Earth, and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
3
Henry Wellcome Ancient Biomolecules Centre, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK.; Centre for GeoGenetics, Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, Øster Voldgade 5-7, DK-1350 Copenhagen, Denmark.
4
Centro de Estudios del Hombre Austral, Instituto de la Patagonia, UMAG, Avenida Bulnes 01890, Punta Arenas, Chile.
5
Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, School of Biological Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia 5005, Australia.; Acute Leukaemia Laboratory, Centre for Cancer Biology, University of South Australia, Adelaide South Australia 5001, Australia.
6
Centre for GeoGenetics, Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, Øster Voldgade 5-7, DK-1350 Copenhagen, Denmark.
7
Institut des Sciences de l'Evolution, Université de Montpellier, CNRS, IRD, EPHE, Montpellier 34095, France.; Departamento de Paleontologia de Vertebrados, Museo de Historia Natural, UNMSM, Avenida Arenales 1256, Lima 14, Peru.
8
Instituto Nacional de Antropología y Pensamiento Latinoamericano, C1426BJN Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina.
9
Área de Arqueología y Etnohistoria, Centro de Estudios Históricos "Prof. Carlos S.A. Segreti," Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Miguel C. del Corro 308, Córdoba (5000), Argentina.
10
Instituto Nacional de Antropología y Pensamiento Latinoamericano (INAPL), CONICET/UBA, 3 de Febrero 1370, C1426BJN Buenos Aires, Argentina.
11
CONICET, Laboratorio de Paleoecología Humana, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina.
12
Department of Natural History, Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queen's Park, Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C6, Canada.
13
CONICET-IANGLA Grupo Vincualdo San Rafael/ UTN-MHNSR, Parque Mariano Moreno (5600), San Rafael, Mendoza, Argentina.
14
Departamento Científico de Arqueología. Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Museo, UNLP, Avenida Paseo del Bosque s/n (1900), La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
15
Centro Regional de Investigaciones Científicas y Transferencia Tecnológica de La Rioja (CRILAR), Provincia de La Rioja, UNLaR, SEGEMAR, UNCa, CONICET, Entre Ríos y Mendoza s/n, (5301), Anillaco, La Rioja, Argentina.
16
School of Biological Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia 5005, Australia.
17
CONOPA, Instituto de Investigación y Desarrollo de Camélidos Sudamericanos, Lima, Peru.
18
CONICET-IMHICIHU, Universidad de Buenos Aires. Saavedra 15, 5 (1083 ACA), Buenos Aires, Argentina.
19
Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, School of Biological Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia 5005, Australia.
20
Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, School of Biological Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia 5005, Australia.; Henry Wellcome Ancient Biomolecules Centre, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK.

Abstract

The causes of Late Pleistocene megafaunal extinctions (60,000 to 11,650 years ago, hereafter 60 to 11.65 ka) remain contentious, with major phases coinciding with both human arrival and climate change around the world. The Americas provide a unique opportunity to disentangle these factors as human colonization took place over a narrow time frame (~15 to 14.6 ka) but during contrasting temperature trends across each continent. Unfortunately, limited data sets in South America have so far precluded detailed comparison. We analyze genetic and radiocarbon data from 89 and 71 Patagonian megafaunal bones, respectively, more than doubling the high-quality Pleistocene megafaunal radiocarbon data sets from the region. We identify a narrow megafaunal extinction phase 12,280 ± 110 years ago, some 1 to 3 thousand years after initial human presence in the area. Although humans arrived immediately prior to a cold phase, the Antarctic Cold Reversal stadial, megafaunal extinctions did not occur until the stadial finished and the subsequent warming phase commenced some 1 to 3 thousand years later. The increased resolution provided by the Patagonian material reveals that the sequence of climate and extinction events in North and South America were temporally inverted, but in both cases, megafaunal extinctions did not occur until human presence and climate warming coincided. Overall, metapopulation processes involving subpopulation connectivity on a continental scale appear to have been critical for megafaunal species survival of both climate change and human impacts.

KEYWORDS:

Antarctic Cold Reversal; PATAGONIA; Pleistocene; South America; climate; extinction; human occupation; megafauna; mitochondrial DNA; radiocarbon

PMID:
27386563
PMCID:
PMC4928889
DOI:
10.1126/sciadv.1501682
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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