1 Tahrcountry Musings: Rapid assessment of historical small-mammal community baselines using skeletal remains

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Rapid assessment of historical small-mammal community baselines using skeletal remains

The dead do not lie: using skeletal remains for rapid assessment of historical small-mammal community baselines
 December 23, 200910.1098/rspb.2009.1984 Proc. R. Soc. B 22 April 2010 vol. 277 no. 16851193-1201
 Baseline information on the status of ecological communities from before the onset of recent and rapid anthropogenic environmental change is a must for meaningful conservation and restoration efforts. Historical biological survey data that pre-date the onset of intense human activity are scarce
In this paper the authors document that natural accumulations of skeletal remains represent a potential source of high-quality data on the historical composition and structure of small-mammal communities.
To test the power of skeletal remains to reveal baseline shifts ,the researcher employed the design of a natural experiment, comparing two taphonomically similar Great Basin cave localities in areas where anthropogenic land-use practices have diverged within the last century.
The author found relative stasis at the undisturbed site, but document rapid restructuring of the small-mammal community at the site subjected to recent disturbance. The result was validated using historical trapping records to show that dead remains accurately capture both the magnitude and direction of this baseline shift.
The researchers assert, based on her research, that surveys of skeletal remains provide a simple, powerful and rapid alternative approach for gaining insight into the historical structure and dynamics of modern small-mammal communities.
This paper is marked as an open access paper

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