Climate change and human impacts are often implicated in Quaternary megafaunal extinctions. The discovery of associated remains of extinct giant short-faced bears (Arctodus simus) and invading brown bears (Ursus arctos) raises the possibility of competition as another potential factor. We describe fossil remains of both genera from Pellucidar Cave, Vancouver Island, Canada. Analyses of ancient mitochondrial DNA support the identifications of post-cranial brown bear specimens and assign these bears to Clade 4. Our results are consistent with the migration of brown bears from Eastern Beringia to the contiguous United States before the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and to Vancouver Island as environmental conditions became favorable after the LGM. Radiocarbon age estimates on these specimens indicate the presence of giant short-faced bears approximately 13.5 thousand calibrated years before present (cal. ka BP; uncalibrated 11,775±30, 11,720±50, and 11,615±30 BP) and of brown bears immediately preceding (∼14.5 cal. ka BP; 12,440±35, 12,425±30 BP) and following this time (∼13 cal. ka BP; uncal. 11,100±30 BP), suggesting niche partitioning to reduce competition among these species. We suggest that shifts in food availability or quality due to post-glacial vegetation and faunal changes were probably of primary importance in the arrival and the disappearance of giant short-faced bears on Vancouver Island. This study focuses on a key time period and geographic location that is useful in understanding Pleistocene extinctions in North America.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Keywords : Ursidae, Morphology, aDNA, Quaternary extinctions, Biogeography, Paleoecology, Vancouver Island
|☆|| Corresponding editor: Gilles Escarguel.