Ghosts of Herbivores Past: Conservation Implications of the End-Pleistocene Extinctions Wednesday Feb. 22 7-9pm at The Holden Arboretum Visitor Center
Program is free but registration is required. To register call (440) 602-3833 or go to http://www.holdenarb.org
This talk will place emerging paleo-data in the context of what we do and don’t know about the role of modern herbivores in shaping ecosystems. Plant communities from the Pleistocene-Holocene transition in eastern North America (17,000-11,000 before the present) were compositionally unlike any found today.
Recent work suggests that the extinction of megaherbivores, for example mastodons, coincided with and may have structured these novel plant communities. The influence of Pleistocene megafauna on ice-age plant communities has previously been poorly understood, but new evidence from spores of the dung fungus Sporormiella, which are preserved in lake sediments, may shed light on the ecological context and consequences of megafaunal population collapse.
Jacquelyn Gill is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. She has an MS in Geography from the University of Wisconsin and a BA in Human Ecology from the College of the Atlantic. Her research addresses how the extinction of North American megafauna (e.g. mastadons) during the last ice age influenced plant communities in eastern North America.
She uses fossils of pollen, charcoal, and spores from lake sediments as proxies for environmental change and then reconstructs past vegetation communities. Her research has been published in the journal Science and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.