Spatial Response of Mammals to Late Quaternary Environmental Fluctuations

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Science  14 Jun 1996:
Vol. 272, Issue 5268, pp. 1601-1606
DOI: 10.1126/science.272.5268.1601


Analyses of fossil mammal faunas from 2945 localities in the United States demonstrate that the geographic ranges of individual species shifted at different times, in different directions, and at different rates in response to late Quaternary environmental fluctuations. The geographic pattern of faunal provinces was similar for the late Pleistocene and late Holocene, but differing environmental gradients resulted in dissimilar species composition for these biogeographic regions. Modern community patterns emerged only in the last few thousand years, and many late Pleistocene communities do not have modern analogs. Faunal heterogeneity was greater in the late Pleistocene.