Article | Multi-method approach using small vertebrate assemblages to reconstruct the Marine Isotope Stage 6 climate and environment of the Lazaret cave sequence (Maritime Alps, Nice, France)

Lopez-García J.M., Blain H.A., Sanchez-Bandera C., Cohen J., Lebreton L., Montuire S., Stewart J.R., Desclaux E. (2021). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 577, 110529

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Marine Isotope Stage 6 (MIS 6; ca. 185–135 ka) is the penultimate glacial stage and constitutes the end of the Middle Pleistocene. This glacial period is typified by generally cold and dry conditions in the western Mediterranean region. Despite the relatively large number of pollen and speleothem studies of MIS 6 in this region, the number of MIS 6 archaeological sites is low. Lazaret cave, situated at 26 m a.s.l. in the city of Nice in southern France, contains an archaeological sequence (layers CII inf. to CIII) dated to MIS 6. We present a multi-method approach using the small-vertebrate assemblages (mainly rodents and herpetofauna) from the entire sequence to characterize the climate and the environment of the site. The Mutual Ecogeographic Range, the Bioclimatic Model andthe Quantified Ecology methods, as well as the Taxonomic Habitat Index, Climatograms and the Simpson Diversity Index were used to reconstruct the palaeoenvironmental and palaeoclimatic conditions. The results suggest a generally cold climate with a relatively humid environment and a landscape dominated by deciduous temperate forests. The findings are consistent with the general trends reported from other proxies (large mammals, birds and marine gastropods) studied at Lazaret cave, other MIS 6 sites in the Mediterranean region with small vertebrate studies and the general trends shown by marine cores, terrestrial pollen sequences and speleothems from western Europe. Given the scarcity of data for MIS 6 archaeological sites, Lazaret cave constitutes an important site for our knowledge of the climate and the environment of this period.