Seetah, Krish, Cardini, Andrea and Miracle, Preston
Can morphospace shed light on cave bear spatial-temporal variation? Population
dynamics of Ursus spelaeus from Romualdova pe�cina and Vindija, (Croatia).
Journal of Archaeological Science, 39
Cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) behavioural ecology, as evidenced through population dynamics, is crucial for improving our understanding of why this species went extinct. Despite the fact that the bones of this species have been recovered in very large quantities, allowing for extensive study, fundamental questions regarding its life-ways remain unanswered.We present research using geometric morphometrics (GMM) on molars to investigate population structure based on morphological variation over space and through time. This preliminary work deliberately restricts the geographic catchment area for sampling, allowing for a meaningful appraisal of scale of variation within a spatially conservative framework. Our results demonstrate no significant morphological variation evident temporally and a small but statistically significant degree of shape variation geographically despite the proximity of the study localities. These findings suggest that an accurate quantitative exploration of morphospace may be an important source of evidence on environmental and climatic shifts and the resulting influence on animal morphology.