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Post-glacial recolonisation and Holocene anthropization impact on populations of shrews and hedgehogs from Western Europe inferred from zooarchaeology, historical biogeography and ecological modeling (SMALL_MAM_RECOL)
Start date: May 5, 2014, End date: May 4, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

At the end of last glaciation, ca. 15 000 cal. yrs ago, small mammals which had receded in the glacial refuges of southern Europe during the last pleniglacial started to spread again northward. This movement, which lasted several millenia -and which is still operating in a few cases- has been investigated through a number of phylogeographic works relying chiefly on molecular grounds so far. Comparatively few has been done on the basis of actual zooarchaeological data, especially for insectivores, often neglected in palaeoenvironmental and palaeoclimatic reconstructions. Moreover, phylogeographical hypotheses derived from molecular data are strongly limited by human perturbations (e.g. anthropisation of the landscape, introduction of alien species, isolation of ecosystems) which have remodelled the phylogenetic patterns of many European taxa since the appearance of agriculture ca 7500 yrs ago. What we intend to do here is to reconstruct the process of post-glacial recolonisation in several species of shrews and of the European hedgehog in Western Europe on the basis of geo-referenced and well dated occurences. For this we will rely on 1) the I2AF databases, hosted at the MNHN and which holds several thousands of bioarchaeological records, 2) data derived from the literature, 3) the production of new data by the identification of insectivores in key series in Spain, France, Belgium, Ireland and Britain. These data will be modelled using ecological niche modelling and integrating data on climate, vegetal environment and coastlines, which significantly evolved during this period. Thus, we hope to produce a dynamic model contributing 1) to understand how small mammal communites have formed at the beginning of the Holocene, and 2) to reconstruct how was the distribution of insectivore taxa prior to the anthropisation of natural environments which took place during the last 7500 years. This could have important outputs for the management and conservation of the studied species.
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