Species distribution modelling of ancient cattle from early Neolithic sites in SW Asia and Europe

James Conolly, Katie Manning, Sue Colledge, Keith Dobney, Stephen, J. Shennan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Species distribution models are widely used by ecologists to estimate the relationship between environmental predictors and species presence and abundance records. In this paper, we use compiled faunal assemblage records from archaeological sites located across southwest Asia and southeast Europe to estimate and to compare the biogeography of ancient wild and early domestic cattle (Bos primigenius and Bos taurus). We estimate the contribution of multiple environmental parameters on the explanation of variation in abundance of cattle remains from archaeological sites, and find that annual precipitation and maximum annual temperature are significant predictors of abundance. We then formulate, test, and confirm a hypothesis that states the process of cattle domestication involves a change in the types of environmental ranges in which cattle exploitation occurred by applying a species distribution model to presence-only data of wild and domestic cattle. Our results show that there is an expansion of cattle rearing in more temperate environments, which is a defining characteristic of the European early Neolithic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)997-1010
Number of pages15
JournalThe Holocene
Issue number9
Early online date19 Mar 2012
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012


  • animal domestication
  • cattle
  • maximum entropy analysis
  • neolithic
  • Southeast Europe
  • Southwest Asia
  • species distribution modelling


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