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Herbivore teeth predict climatic limits in Kenyan ecosystems
Department of Geosciences and Geography, University of Helsinki, FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland.
Department of Geosciences and Geography, University of Helsinki, FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland.
Evolution of Terrestrial Ecosystems Program, Department of Paleobiology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institute, Washington,DC 20013.
Department of Geosciences and Geography, University of Helsinki, FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland.
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2016 (English)In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America, ISSN 1091-6490, Vol. 113, 12751-12756 p.Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A major focus in evolutionary biology is to understand how the evolution of organisms relates to changes in their physical environment. In the terrestrial realm, the interrelationships among climate,vegetation, and herbivores lie at the heart of this question. Here we introduce and test a scoring scheme for functional traits present on theworn surfaces of large mammalian herbivore teeth to capture their relationship to environmental conditions. We modeled local precipitation, temperature, primary productivity, and vegetation index as functions of dental traits of large mammal species in 13 national parks in Kenya over the past 60 y. We found that these dental traits can accurately estimate local climate and environment, even at small spatial scales within areas of relatively uniform climate (within two ecoregions), and that they predict limiting conditions better than average conditions. These findings demonstrate that the evolution of key functional properties of organisms may be more reflective of demands during recurring adverse episodes than under average conditions or during isolated severe events.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Boston, U.S.A., 2016. Vol. 113, 12751-12756 p.
Keyword [en]
Herbivorous mammals, dental traits, ecometrics, paleoecology
National Category
Natural Sciences Ecology
Research subject
Ecosystems and species history
URN: urn:nbn:se:nrm:diva-1865DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1609409113OAI: diva2:1040310

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Available from: 2016-10-27 Created: 2016-10-27 Last updated: 2016-11-11Bibliographically approved

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