The Long Term Response of Birds to Climate Change: New Results from a Cold Stage Avifauna in Northern England

Authors: Stewart, J.R. and Jacobi, R.M.

Journal: PLOS ONE

Volume: 10

Issue: 5

Pages: 1-40

ISSN: 1932-6203


The early MIS 3 (55–40 Kyr BP associated with Middle Palaeolithic archaeology) bird remains from Pin Hole, Creswell Crags, Derbyshire, England are analysed in the context of the new dating of the site’s stratigraphy. The analysis is restricted to the material from the early MIS 3 level of the cave because the upper fauna is now known to include Holocene material as well as that from the Late Glacial. The results of the analysis confirm the presence of the taxa, possibly unexpected for a Late Pleistocene glacial deposit including records such as Alpine swift, demoiselle crane and long-legged buzzard with southern and/or eastern distributions today. These taxa are accompanied by more expected ones such as willow ptarmigan /red grouse and rock ptarmigan living today in northern and montane areas. Finally, there are temperate taxa normally requiring trees for nesting such as wood pigeon and grey heron. Therefore, the result of the analysis is that the avifauna of early MIS 3 in England included taxa whose ranges today do not overlap making it a non-analogue community similar to the many steppe-tundra mammalian faunas of the time. The inclusion of more temperate and woodland taxa is discussed in the light that parts of northern Europe may have acted as cryptic northern refugia for some such taxa during the last glacial. These records showing former ranges of taxa are considered in the light of modern phylogeographic studies as these often assume former ranges without considering the fossil record of those taxa. In addition to the anomalous combination of taxa during MIS 3 living in Derbyshire, the individuals of a number of the taxa are different in size and shape to members of the species today probably due to the high carrying capacity of the steppe-tundra.

Source: BURO EPrints