Biology ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-15-2019


The rapid progression of modern climate change is already altering ecosystems worldwide. By employing the fossil record, we can investigate how animals responded to past climatic changes and biodiversity loss. The paleontological record of the late Quaternary (past ~22000 years) encompasses a period of considerable environmental change in North America. Rising temperatures and climatic fluctuations are coupled with the extinction of the majority of large bodied mammals on the landscape. The combination of climate and extinction events led to changes in vegetation and community structure which likely affected the resources available and interactions between the remaining mammals within communities. Here, we investigate the ecological and morphological traits in Neotoma and Sigmodon across these events. We find varying responses across these small bodied mammals, suggesting that each is adapting to different stressors between climate and community changes, but that both are impacted by small and large scale biotic and abiotic changes.




geometric morphometrics, dental morphology, biodiversity loss, climate change, small mammal response, Edwards Plateau

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Biology Department

First Committee Member (Chair)

Felisa A Smith

Second Committee Member

Seth D Newsome

Third Committee Member

Sherry Nelson

Fourth Committee Member

S. Kathleen Lyons

Included in

Biology Commons