The focus of my research is on the fossil mammal record from the last 2.6 million years (the Quaternary), combining elements of biostratigraphy (the use of fossil assemblages as a dating tool) and the reconstruction of past environments, with the investigation of palaeobiological aspects such as evolutionary change and the interaction of past mammalian communities with early humans. I have proposed new models for our understanding of the climates and environments of the last half million years, using the evidence from mammalian biostratigraphy to identify discrete climatic episodes.
Outside the UK, I have extended my research into the correlation of Pleistocene faunas of France, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Spain. The framework I proposed now forms the established basis for our understanding of glacial-interglacial mammalian faunal turnover in the UK, thereby permitting correlations with other parts of continental Europe, and is widely employed by stratigraphers, palaeontologists, geochronologists and archaeologists. I have further collaborated with geochronologists to permit faunal turnover and distribution shifts to be more accurately dated. This has allowed a higher degree of resolution to be recognised than attained previously and is now setting the future agenda for analysing and understanding the finer-scale variations within and between interglacials. I am currently particularly interested in mammalian responses to abrupt climate change at the end of the Pleistocene and am involved in excavations at key cave sites in the Mendip Hills in Somerset, Creswell Crags in Derbyshire and Kents Cavern in Devon in order to recover new fossil material of Lateglacial age.
A major beneficiary of my research is the field of archaeology. As a Principal Specialist in the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain projects I-III (2000-2011), funded by the Leverhulme Trust for over £3.2 million, I have applied my knowledge to multiple Palaeolithic archaeological sites both in the UK and overseas, both from a dating perspective and also from the point of view of subsistence practices and human responses to environmental change. Most recently, I have led the British component of an Anglo-French grant (funded by l'Agence Nationale de la Recherche) to study the emergence of handaxe cultures in NW Europe. Outside Europe, I have an established research collaboration based in Turkey, which has led to the discovery of the oldest humanly-worked stone tool in Anatolia.
I have also been developing research into the long-term effects of large herbivores on the landscape and the possibility of “re-wilding” parts of Britain through the introduction of Konik horses as wetland grazing managers.
Research output: Contribution to conference › Abstract
Research output: Contribution to journal › Editorial
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article
Activity: Ongoing editorial work / peer review › Editor of research journal
Activity: Conference contribution › Participation in conference
Activity: Public engagement, outreach and knowledge exchange › Public Lecture/debate/seminar