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Grant Zazula

Paleontologist, Yukon Plaeontology Program, Department of Tourism and Culture, Government of Yukon

My research will examine Beringian vegetation during Oxygen Isotope Stage (OIS) 6 (ca. 190 - 125 ka BP) and OIS 2 (25-15 ka BP) glacial intervals through the analysis of opal phytoliths, plant macrofossils and pollen recovered from ice-rich loess and paleosols at exposures in west-central Yukon. This study will test the Beringian "mammoth-steppe" hypothesis concerning the relationships between vegetation composition, productivity and mammal herbivory over two major glacials. Analysis of opal phytoliths will potentially identify major grass genera that cannot be resolved by other palynology. I am also examining Pleistocene arctic ground squirrel nests, seed caches and fecal pellets recovered from frozen burrow complexes within the loessal sediments. Plant remains are from these burrows are of exceptional quality and may provide a unique record of local vegetation and small mammal behavior during Pleistocene glacials. Together, these methods should provide new and unique data concerning the development of vegetation in central Yukon during glaciations and the response of this vegetation to climate change and glaciation over long time-scales. My research is being conducted in collaboration with a multidisciplinary research group that is using tephrochronology, paleomagnetics, sedimentology, palynology, paleontology and ancient DNA to examine environmental change in central Alaska and Yukon over the late Cenozoic.

M.A., Anthropology 2002 University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB
B.A., Anthropology 1999 University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB