Late Pleistocene and Holocene History of Mammals in Europe

Living reference work entry
Part of the Handbook of the Mammals of Europe book series (HDBME)


This chapter describes the history of mammal species and their zoogeographical patterns during the Late Pleistocene and Holocene. The scientific results of the past 20 years on biogeography, phylogeny, and population history of mammals in combination with information on the development of climate and environment yield a complex picture of the dynamics of species in the past and offer a better understanding of the Quaternary biogeography of Europe. Overviews of the individual pattern of the different species and the differences among the species are presented. In addition to the extinction pattern of typical Ice Age species like mammoth and cave lion and colonization history of temperate species from glacial refugia like roe deer or beaver, the chapter highlights how successful the different species were during a relatively short period of fundamental climate change. Apart from the extinct species, this is of high relevance for extant species which underwent significant changes of their distribution range during the Pleistocene to Holocene shift like reindeer, saiga antelope, pika, spotted hyena, or arctic fox.


Post-glacial Climate change Environmental change Extinction Recolonization Glacial refugia Last Glacial Maximum Faunal history Mammals Palaeoecology Population history 



I am grateful to Frank Zachos for helpful suggestions and comments on an earlier version of the text.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Landscape Sciences and GeomaticsNeubrandenburg University of Applied SciencesRostockGermany
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyInstitute of Biosciences, University of RostockRostockGermany

Section editors and affiliations

  • Klaus Hackländer
    • 1
  • Frank E. Zachos
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Integrative Biology and Biodiversity Research, Institute of Wildlife Biology and Game ManagementUniversity of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU)ViennaAustria
  2. 2.Mammal CollectionNatural History Museum ViennaViennaAustria
  3. 3.Department of Integrative ZoologyUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria
  4. 4.Department of GeneticsUniversity of the Free StateBloemfonteinSouth Africa

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