Changes to the Western Eurasian Hominin Climate Niche

Author(s): Christopher Nicholson

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "SAA 2019: General Sessions" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

The climate niches that early modern humans and our earlier hominin ancestors inhabited have undergone major changes over time. This study documents climate niche expansions, contractions, and stationarity across four time periods (Last Interglacial, Last Glacial Maximum, Mid-Holocene, and 1950¬–2000) in western Eurasia. Using spatially gridded global climate model data and site locations for each time period, I track how groups shifted their climate niches by comparing climate data from archaeological sites across time and to current western Eurasian cities. I document each time periods’ realized niche breadth, overlap, position, and variance with their overall fundamental niche. Results indicate that as global temperatures cooled from the Last Interglacial to Last Glacial Maximum, human populations expanded their climate niche breadth beyond that of earlier Neanderthal groups and shifted their niche toward regions that had less seasonal variation. Conversely, Mid-Holocene humans, who saw the proliferation of both agriculture and population, contracted their realized climate niche space. The changes to climate niche space illustrates how hominins have evolved the capacity to shift our niche through modifications to our subsistence strategy and adaptations to overall climatic conditions.

Cite this Record

Changes to the Western Eurasian Hominin Climate Niche. Christopher Nicholson. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 449469)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Chris Nicholson

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 22857