Ecosystem analysis of Baikal Siberia using Palaeolithic faunal assemblages to reconstruct MIS 3 - MIS 2 environments and climate

Fedora I. Khenzykhenova, Alexander A. Shchetnikov, Takao Sato, Margarita A. Erbajeva, Elena Y. Semenei, Ekaterina A. Lipnina, Kunio Yoshida, Hirofumi Kato, Ivan I. Filinov, Erdem G. Tumurov, Nadezhda Alexeeva, Dmitry N. Lokhov

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Integrated studies of the geological context and fauna of Palaeolithic sites made it possible to reconstruct climate and environments of Baikal Siberia during MIS 3 - MIS 2. The main constituents of the faunal assemblages are small mammals which are a reliable bioindicator of landscapes and climates of the past. In the Fore-Baikal area, fauna recovered from archaeological sites presents a mixture of ecological indicators, its components presently inhabiting different natural zones. The sediments studied at the Bol'shoi Naryn and Gerasimov's sites and dated to MIS 3 yielded fauna with a large proportion of tundra species; its composition suggests mosaic landscapes of tundra-forest-meadow-steppes and a cold humid climate at the time of human habitation. Fauna from the Malta site (MIS 2) is indicative of tundra-steppe and harsh climate at the beginning of the Sartan glaciation. Evidence from the end of the Pleistocene and postglacial, indicates the climate becoming warmer and wetter. Tundra animals are absent from MIS 3 sites of Transbaikalia. According to faunal evidence, dry steppe and arid climates existed at the early Sartan (MIS 2), and taiga animal species appeared and increased in importance towards the end of Pleistocene, when the forests had wide distribution. Fauna from MIS 3 sites in the southwestern Baikal area (Near-Baikal area) is similar to Transbaikalia, lacking tundra species and dominated by indicators of dry steppe and arid climates. The southwestern Baikal is more similar to Fore-Baikal area, both having a higher proportion of forest species than in Transbaikalian assemblages. The fauna distribution displays features of mosaic landscapes with distinctly identified zones: forest- and meadow-steppe along rivers, and dry steppe and semi-desert on south-facing slopes of mountains. The climate was milder than in the Transbaikal and warmer than in the Fore-Baikal area. Unfortunately, we have little data on the fauna of MIS 2.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-27
Number of pages12
JournalQuaternary International
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Dec 15


  • Archaeozoology
  • Baikal Siberia
  • Climate
  • Fore-Baikal area
  • Human palaeoenvironments
  • MIS 2
  • MIS 3
  • Mammals
  • Near-Baikal area
  • Transbaikalia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes


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