Pleistocene Climate Change and the Shifting Habitats of Chacma Baboons and Human Populations

Dr Ben Schoville, will present the Department of Archaeology seminar with a talk entitled, "Pleistocene Climate Change and the Shifting Habitats of Chacma Baboons and Human Populations" .  Dr Schoville will describe some of the interesting work he is doing during his post-doctoral fellowship in the Department. As can be seen from the abstract below, his research ranges across Pleistocene archaeology, human evolution, palaeoenvironmental studies and more.


Glacial cycling substantially altered the distribution of forests, deserts, and grasslands, and the animal communities that depend on them. Increased aridity and reduced temperatures during global glacial phases may have reduced the range of some species into refugia. The origins of modern humans has been argued to be the product of a population bottleneck during a long-lasting glacial phase 195-130,000 years ago. In this presentation, I will present the results of two modelling projects exploring the relationship between changing habitat suitability and archaeological evidence for human demographic and behavioural changes. First, to test the human origins refugium hypothesis, I use habitat suitability modelling to examine whether the distribution of suitable habitats for hunter-gatherer populations would be more fragmented during glacial phases than interglacial phases, and where areas of high habitat suitability are located. Second, I examine how the genetic diversity of Chacma baboons is related to changing habitat suitability during glacial phases. Similarities in ecological tolerances between the two genera make baboons a suitable analogue for interpreting patterns in the late Pleistocene archaeological record of human population dynamics that are rooted in ecological relationships. From this perspective, how baboon populations responded to uneven habitat changes through time may provide clues to interpreting the patchy archaeological record of modern human origins in southern Africa. 

Monday, March 13, 2017 - 13:00

Teaching Studio B 3.10 Beattie Building, Upper Campus, UCT