NSF 2011 Earth Sciences Division, Sedimentary Geology and Paleobiology Program. Chronology and Paleoecology of Late Quaternary Proboscidean extinctions in the Great Lakes Region (USA) ($263,703).
The Illinois State Museum is collaborating with the University of Kansas and University of Arizona to better understand the timing and underlying causes of mammoth and mastodon extinctions in the upper Midwest at the end of the last Ice Age. This project explores the ecological underpinnings of extinction in large mammals facing rapid climate change through the use of regional museum collections, radiocarbon dating, and innovative geochemical techniques. Although the ultimate reason for the demise of these animals has been debated for decades, answers to extinction questions are no longer trivial or academic. Given the accelerating pace of climate change, deep-time paleoecological events such as the end-Pleistocene extinctions provide a model of how the planets's ecosystems will respond to future changes, thus providing critical baseline information for future social adaptations to a warmer world.