An ecological reassessment of the southern African carnivore guild: a case study from Member 4, Sterkfontein, South Africa

This source preferred by Sally Reynolds

Authors: O' Regan, H.J. and Reynolds, S.C.

Journal: Journal of Human Evolution

Volume: 57

Pages: 212-222

The southern African late Pliocene to early Pleistocene carnivore guild was much larger than that of the present day. Understanding how this guild may have functioned is important for the reconstruction of carnivore-hominin interactions and to assess the potential for hominin scavenging in southern Africa. In modern ecosystems, the coexistence of larger carnivore species is constrained by several factors, which include high levels of interspecific competition. Here, the composition of the fossil carnivore guild is examined using Sterkfontein Member 4 (Cradle of Humankind, South Africa) as a case study. Sterkfontein Member 4 contains 10 larger carnivore taxa (body mass > 21.5 kg) and may also contain two Australopithecus species. Two possible causes of higher numbers of carnivore species in the South African fossil record are initially considered. First, that there is a bias introduced through comparing assemblages of differing sizes; second, carnivore biodiversity may have been artificially inflated due to previous taxonomic splitting of carnivore species, such as Crocuta. These possibilities are rejected and modern ecological data are used to construct a simple spatial model to determine how many carnivores could have co-existed. Although the resulting model indicates that the carnivore taxa present in Member 4 could have co-occurred, modern ecological studies indicate that it is highly unlikely that they would have co-existed simultaneously. Considering the complex depositional processes that operate in the southern African cave sites, it is proposed that the larger carnivore guild observed in the Sterkfontein Member 4 fossil assemblage is a palimpsest created by time-averaging. In light of this, we suggest that sites which have a large number of carnivore taxa should be examined for time-averaging, while those sites which have relatively few species may be a better reflection of carnivore communities.

This source preferred by Sally Reynolds

Authors: O'Regan, H.J. and Reynolds, S.C.

Journal: Journal of Human Evolution

Volume: 57

Pages: 212-222

The southern African late Pliocene to early Pleistocene carnivore guild was much larger than that of the present day. Understanding how this guild may have functioned is important for the reconstruction of carnivore-hominin interactions and to assess the potential for hominin scavenging in southern Africa. In modern ecosystems, the coexistence of larger carnivore species is constrained by several factors, which include high levels of interspecific competition. Here, the composition of the fossil carnivore guild is examined using Sterkfontein Member 4 (Cradle of Humankind, South Africa) as a case study. Sterkfontein Member 4 contains 10 larger carnivore taxa (body mass > 21.5 kg) and may also contain two Australopithecus species. Two possible causes of higher numbers of carnivore species in the South African fossil record are initially considered. First, that there is a bias introduced through comparing assemblages of differing sizes; second, carnivore biodiversity may have been artificially inflated due to previous taxonomic splitting of carnivore species, such as Crocuta. These possibilities are rejected and modern ecological data are used to construct a simple spatial model to determine how many carnivores could have co-existed. Although the resulting model indicates that the carnivore taxa present in Member 4 could have co-occurred, modern ecological studies indicate that it is highly unlikely that they would have co-existed simultaneously. Considering the complex depositional processes that operate in the southern African cave sites, it is proposed that the larger carnivore guild observed in the Sterkfontein Member 4 fossil assemblage is a palimpsest created by time-averaging. In light of this, we suggest that sites which have a large number of carnivore taxa should be examined for time-averaging, while those sites which have relatively few species may be a better reflection of carnivore communities.

This data was imported from PubMed:

Authors: O'Regan, H.J. and Reynolds, S.C.

Journal: J Hum Evol

Volume: 57

Issue: 3

Pages: 212-222

eISSN: 1095-8606

DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2009.04.002

The southern African late Pliocene to early Pleistocene carnivore guild was much larger than that of the present day. Understanding how this guild may have functioned is important for the reconstruction of carnivore-hominin interactions and to assess the potential for hominin scavenging in southern Africa. In modern ecosystems, the coexistence of larger carnivore species is constrained by several factors, which include high levels of interspecific competition. Here, the composition of the fossil carnivore guild is examined using Sterkfontein Member 4 (Cradle of Humankind, South Africa) as a case study. Sterkfontein Member 4 contains 10 larger carnivore taxa (body mass >21.5 kg) and may also contain two Australopithecus species. Two possible causes of higher numbers of carnivore species in the South African fossil record are initially considered. First, that there is a bias introduced through comparing assemblages of differing sizes; second, carnivore biodiversity may have been artificially inflated due to previous taxonomic splitting of carnivore species, such as Crocuta. These possibilities are rejected and modern ecological data are used to construct a simple spatial model to determine how many carnivores could have co-existed. Although the resulting model indicates that the carnivore taxa present in Member 4 could have co-occurred, modern ecological studies indicate that it is highly unlikely that they would have co-existed simultaneously. Considering the complex depositional processes that operate in the southern African cave sites, it is proposed that the larger carnivore guild observed in the Sterkfontein Member 4 fossil assemblage is a palimpsest created by time-averaging. In light of this, we suggest that sites which have a large number of carnivore taxa should be examined for time-averaging, while those sites which have relatively few species may be a better reflection of carnivore communities.

This data was imported from Scopus:

Authors: O'Regan, H.J. and Reynolds, S.C.

Journal: Journal of Human Evolution

Volume: 57

Issue: 3

Pages: 212-222

ISSN: 0047-2484

DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2009.04.002

The southern African late Pliocene to early Pleistocene carnivore guild was much larger than that of the present day. Understanding how this guild may have functioned is important for the reconstruction of carnivore-hominin interactions and to assess the potential for hominin scavenging in southern Africa. In modern ecosystems, the coexistence of larger carnivore species is constrained by several factors, which include high levels of interspecific competition. Here, the composition of the fossil carnivore guild is examined using Sterkfontein Member 4 (Cradle of Humankind, South Africa) as a case study. Sterkfontein Member 4 contains 10 larger carnivore taxa (body mass > 21.5 kg) and may also contain two Australopithecus species. Two possible causes of higher numbers of carnivore species in the South African fossil record are initially considered. First, that there is a bias introduced through comparing assemblages of differing sizes; second, carnivore biodiversity may have been artificially inflated due to previous taxonomic splitting of carnivore species, such as Crocuta. These possibilities are rejected and modern ecological data are used to construct a simple spatial model to determine how many carnivores could have co-existed. Although the resulting model indicates that the carnivore taxa present in Member 4 could have co-occurred, modern ecological studies indicate that it is highly unlikely that they would have co-existed simultaneously. Considering the complex depositional processes that operate in the southern African cave sites, it is proposed that the larger carnivore guild observed in the Sterkfontein Member 4 fossil assemblage is a palimpsest created by time-averaging. In light of this, we suggest that sites which have a large number of carnivore taxa should be examined for time-averaging, while those sites which have relatively few species may be a better reflection of carnivore communities. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

This data was imported from Web of Science (Lite):

Authors: O'Regan, H.J. and Reynolds, S.C.

Journal: JOURNAL OF HUMAN EVOLUTION

Volume: 57

Issue: 3

Pages: 212-222

ISSN: 0047-2484

DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2009.04.002

This data was imported from Europe PubMed Central:

Authors: O'Regan, H.J. and Reynolds, S.C.

Journal: Journal of human evolution

Volume: 57

Issue: 3

Pages: 212-222

eISSN: 1095-8606

ISSN: 0047-2484

The southern African late Pliocene to early Pleistocene carnivore guild was much larger than that of the present day. Understanding how this guild may have functioned is important for the reconstruction of carnivore-hominin interactions and to assess the potential for hominin scavenging in southern Africa. In modern ecosystems, the coexistence of larger carnivore species is constrained by several factors, which include high levels of interspecific competition. Here, the composition of the fossil carnivore guild is examined using Sterkfontein Member 4 (Cradle of Humankind, South Africa) as a case study. Sterkfontein Member 4 contains 10 larger carnivore taxa (body mass >21.5 kg) and may also contain two Australopithecus species. Two possible causes of higher numbers of carnivore species in the South African fossil record are initially considered. First, that there is a bias introduced through comparing assemblages of differing sizes; second, carnivore biodiversity may have been artificially inflated due to previous taxonomic splitting of carnivore species, such as Crocuta. These possibilities are rejected and modern ecological data are used to construct a simple spatial model to determine how many carnivores could have co-existed. Although the resulting model indicates that the carnivore taxa present in Member 4 could have co-occurred, modern ecological studies indicate that it is highly unlikely that they would have co-existed simultaneously. Considering the complex depositional processes that operate in the southern African cave sites, it is proposed that the larger carnivore guild observed in the Sterkfontein Member 4 fossil assemblage is a palimpsest created by time-averaging. In light of this, we suggest that sites which have a large number of carnivore taxa should be examined for time-averaging, while those sites which have relatively few species may be a better reflection of carnivore communities.

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