Palaeoclimate and Dietary Niche of Family Cervidae from the Siwaliks (Pakistan): Does Coeval Occurrence of Species Leads to Niche Partitioning?

Muhammad Tahir Waseem, Abdul Majid Khan, Jay Quade, Abdul Ghaffar, Ghulam Sarwar

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Biogeochemistry is crucial to reconstruct the climate, diet, and habitats of extinct animals. The Siwalik sediments of Pakistan exhibit an excellent record of faunal elements, providing an opportunity to explore palaeohabitats of diverse mammalian communities that existed in the Siwaliks. This study is the first to investigate the dietary niche and climatic context of the Siwalik cervids from ~5 Ma to ~2 Ma (early Pliocene to early Pleistocene). Tooth enamel of 25 fossil samples belonging to four different species (R. simplicidens, C. sivalensis, C. triplidens, and C. rewati) was subjected to carbon (δ13C) and oxygen (δ18O) isotope analysis. Family Cervidae shows significantly different average δ13C values of −12.2‰, −9.9‰, and 1.0‰ for early Pliocene (~5 Ma), late Pliocene (~3 Ma), and early Pleistocene (~2.2 Ma) time spans, respectively. δ13Cenamel values indicate that cervids preferred a close habitat and preferably browsed on C3 vegetation in forested parts of the fan during the early Pliocene, with the gradual shift toward increasing C4 vegetation in diet and more open habitat over time. By the early Pleistocene, Siwalik cervids fed entirely on C4 vegetation in open grassland settings. Such change in the diet seems to be synchronous with increased complexity (increased enamel thickness and hypsodonty) in dentition over time. δ18Oenamel reveals a significant shift through time with values of −10.0‰, −5.9‰, and 3.7‰ from the early Pliocene, late Pliocene, and early Pleistocene, respectively. Many species of the family Cervidae were coeval and diachronous, possibly justified by the niche partitioning hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRecent Research on Environmental Earth Sciences, Geomorphology, Soil Science, Paleoclimate, and Karst - Proceedings of the 1st MedGU, Istanbul 2021 Volume 4
EditorsAttila Çiner, Md Firoz Khan, Amjad Kallel, Jesús Rodrigo-Comino, Mario Parise, Rahim Barzegar, Zeynal Abiddin Ergüler, Nabil Khelifi, Imran Ali
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages4
ISBN (Print)9783031429163
StatePublished - 2023
Event1st International conference on Mediterranean Geosciences Union, MedGU 2021 - Istanbul, Turkey
Duration: Nov 25 2021Nov 28 2021

Publication series

NameAdvances in Science, Technology and Innovation
ISSN (Print)2522-8714
ISSN (Electronic)2522-8722


Conference1st International conference on Mediterranean Geosciences Union, MedGU 2021


  • Carbon isotopes
  • Cervids
  • Oxygen isotopes
  • Tatrot

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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