Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why are there no hyenas in Europe?

Date:
September 27, 2010
Source:
Plataforma SINC
Summary:
Researchers have analyzed the impact of climate change on spotted hyena survival in Europe over 10,000 years ago. These changes played an important role, but the scientists say studies are still needed to look at the influence of human expansion and changes in herbivorous fauna on the definitive extinction of this species across the continent.

Profile of an alert spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta).
Credit: iStockphoto

A team from the National Museum of Natural Sciences (CSIC) has analysed the impact of climate change on spotted hyena survival in Europe over 10,000 years ago. These changes played an important role, but the scientists say studies are still needed to look at the influence of human expansion and changes in herbivorous fauna on the definitive extinction of this species across the continent.

"Climate change in the past was not directly responsible for the extinction of the spotted hyena in southern Europe, but it was a factor in its disappearance," says Sara Varela, lead author of the study and a researcher at the National Museum of Natural Sciences (CSIC).

According to the study, which has been published in the Journal Quaternary Science Reviews, the hyena populations of Africa and Eurasia became separated during the glacial maximum. And "the climatic conditions in southern Europe 21,000 years ago were extreme for this species," says Varela.

At that time, the European climate was undergoing "drastic" changes, as were herbivorous fauna populations and human expansion. According to the expert, "the survival of the hyenas could have been affected by the combination of these three factors acting in synergy, but not by the action of the climate alone."

Her team studied climate change in the past and identified the most favourable areas for the hyena in Europe, using modelling to look at the various climate scenarios of the Pleistocene. A second model estimated the severity of climate conditions for the survival of these animals. "The climatic conditions in the south of Europe were at all times within the tolerance range of this species," Varela points out.

Everything happened in the late Pleistocene

The spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) became extinct at the end of the late Pleistocene (around 10,000 years ago), coinciding with the last glacial maximum and the expansion of Homo sapiens. Large species disappeared forever, but the spotted hyena held out for a while and modified its geographical range in order to survive.

The distribution of the spotted hyena, a carnivore that is common in sub-Saharan Africa, has changed "substantially" from the Pleistocene until the present. Today it is only found in Africa, but during the Pleistocene (almost one million years ago), the spotted hyena also inhabited Eurasia.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Plataforma SINC. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sara Varela, Jorge M. Lobo, Jesús Rodríguez, Persaram Batra. Were the Late Pleistocene climatic changes responsible for the disappearance of the European spotted hyena populations? Hindcasting a species geographic distribution across time. Quaternary Science Reviews, 2010; 29 (17-18): 2027 DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2010.04.017

Cite This Page:

Plataforma SINC. "Why are there no hyenas in Europe?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100923105759.htm>.
Plataforma SINC. (2010, September 27). Why are there no hyenas in Europe?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100923105759.htm
Plataforma SINC. "Why are there no hyenas in Europe?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100923105759.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Newsy (July 19, 2014) — Neil Armstrong gained international fame after becoming the first man to walk on the moon in 1969. But what was his life like after the historic trip? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

AFP (July 19, 2014) — As if it weren't enough that the Queen is the Sovereign of the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms, she is also the owner of all Britain's unmarked swans. Duration: 02:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Newsy (July 19, 2014) — Research on plaque from ancient teeth shows that our prehistoric ancestor's had a detailed understanding of plants long before developing agriculture. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
45 Years Later, Buzz Aldrin on Walking on Moon

45 Years Later, Buzz Aldrin on Walking on Moon

AP (July 18, 2014) — Forty-five years ago Sunday, Apollo 11's Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the moon. Speaking at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Aldrin described what he was thinking right before the historic walk. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins