National Geographic quotes Gill in article on warming climate, animals

Jacquelyn Gill, assistant professor of paleoecology and plant ecology at the University of Maine, was quoted in the National Geographic article, “Abruptly warming climate triggered megabeast revolutions.” Around 34,000 years ago, woolly mammoths went extinct from parts of Europe, only to be replaced by other woolly mammoths that belonged to the same species, but had a different genetic lineage, according to the article. The same event has happened with other large animals that are now extinct. A team of scientists investigated these extinctions using ancient DNA, carbon-dating and climate records. The researchers found when one group of large beasts cycled into another, and, eventually, into extinction, it usually happened during the warm periods, the article states. “In the last two and a half million years, ice ages have been the rule for the Earth’s climate system — the warm periods are the exception,” Gill said. “Given that, it absolutely makes sense that the authors found evidence for more turnover during warmer climates, rather than cold events.” Gill said the results are also of concern in the present. “When it comes to the conservation of elephants, rhinos, or tigers, it’s clear that we need to be conserving the genetic diversity that may be critical to their survival through the coming centuries of warming,” she said.