Inferring spatio-temporal palaeodynamics: from ancient biomolecules to organismal (overviews on cave sediment sequences)
This project proposes novel ways of providing insights into the complexity of past life on Earth through an interdisciplinary approach relying on complementary data from palaeogenomics, palaeobiology, and palaeoclimate. We will reconstruct the Late Pleistocene/Holocene mammalian and human dynamics from non-disturbed cave sediments of poorly studied, yet important sites with known hominin occupation in caves located in the Western (Apuseni) Carpathians of Romania. The aim is to assess the past ecological dynamics through time in light of climate variability. To achieve this we will: 1) conduct excavations at proposed sites; 2) isolate ancient DNA (aDNA) from cave sediments; 3) carry out next-generation sequencing of mitochondrial capture data (mtDNA); 4) assess the palaeoclimatic and chronological context by putting together results from sedimentology, isotopes and dating. We will produce the most complete targeted enriched mtDNA dataset from sediments allowing us to gain an unprecedented understanding of the spatio-temporal dynamics of the Late Pleistocene/Holocene ecosystems, and moving forward the field of palaeobiological research in cave contexts.
ancient DNA; cave sediments; palaeobiology; palaeoclimate; Prehistoric sites.