Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Small mammal faunal stasis in Natural Trap Cave (Pleistocene-Holocene), Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming
by Williams, Daniel R., Ph.D., University of Kansas, 2009, 252; 3354866
Abstract (Summary)

Paleocommunity behavior through time is a topic of fierce debate in paleoecology, one with ramifications for the general study of macroevolution. The predominant viewpoint is that communities are ephemeral objects during the Quaternary that easily fall apart, but evidence exists that suggests geography and spatial scale plays a role. Natural Trap Cave is a prime testing ground for observing how paleocommunities react to large-scale climate change. Natural Trap Cave has a continuous faunal record (100 ka–recent) that spans the last glacial cycle, large portions of which are replicated in local rockshelters, which is used here to test for local causes of stasis. The Quaternary fauna of North America is relatively well sampled and dated, so the influence of spatial scale and biogeography on local community change can also be tested for. Here I use the herbivorous and omnivorous small mammal fauna (<5 kg) of Natural Trap Cave, which are more likely to be members of a local paleocommunity than more mobile large mammals and carnivores. A significant proportion of the fauna is present throughout the record and these are primarily arid and open-habitat adapted, or generalist, taxa that are predicted to find the full-glacial environment of northern Wyoming suitable in any case. An invasion of arctic and alpine tundra taxa occurred during the Last Glacial Maximum, but these were extirpated locally following the deglaciation. The regional ecosystem surrounding Natural Trap Cave also had significant faunal carryover (>50%). The likely cause for the local stasis in Natural Trap Cave is distance from the modern northern and southern edges of the member taxa distributions, a reflection of their broad range of adaptation. North–south oriented mountain barriers preserve the integrity of the regional fauna by allowing habitat-tracking down-elevation. These mountain barriers also limit east–west dispersal from neighboring faunal provinces.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Martin, Larry D.
Commitee: Foster, Bryan L., Johnson, William C., Lieberman, Bruce S., Timm, Robert M.
School: University of Kansas
Department: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
School Location: United States -- Kansas
Source: DAI-B 70/05, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Paleontology
Keywords: Community stasis, Faunal stasis, Last interglacial, Natural Trap Cave, Pitfall traps, Pleistocene, Rodent taphonomy
Publication Number: 3354866
ISBN: 978-1-109-12561-0
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