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Holocene Paleoenvironmental Change in the Kenyan Central Rift as Indicated by Micromammals from Enkapune Ya Muto Rockshelter

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Curtis W. Marean
Department of Anthropology, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, New York 11794-4364
Nina Mudida
Department of Osteology, National Museums of Kenya, P.O. Box 40658, Nairobi, Kenya
Kaye E. Reed
Doctoral Program in Anthropological Sciences, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, New York 11794-4364


An assemblage of micromammals, recovered from the Holocene levels of a rockshelter at 2400 m in the montane forest of the Mau Escarpment, were examined with the goal of testing and contributing to prior reconstructions of paleoenvironments in the Central Rift Valley of Kenya. Species representation in the assemblage is consistent with a drying of the Rift Valley lakes in the middle Holocene and suggests a decrease in forest accompanied by expanding grasslands near the site. Changes in the abundance of grassland species suggests an increase in the frequency of fires, probably the result of pastoral burning. The body size of the root rat (Tachyoryctes splendens) decreases from the early Holocene to the middle Holocene, and this may indicate increasing aridity or increasing temperature. We compare measures of species diversity (number of taxa, species richness, and the Shannon diversity index) for both micromammals and macromammals since species diversity may change with paleoenvironmental change. The macromammals show no changes in species diversity that are assignable to paleoenvironmental change, while the micromammals show a trend toward decreasing diversity from the early to middle Holocene, and then show an increase in diversity during the peak of the middle Holocene dry phase, though sample size effects may be confounding the patterning.

University of Washington

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Holocene Paleoenvironmental Change in the Kenyan Central Rift as Indicated by Micromammals from Enkapune Ya Muto Rockshelter
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