Practical course "HESPAD: Hominin ecospace and dispersal"

from May 7th to May 18th, 2018
at the ROCEEH Research Centre, Frankfurt/Main

In this class we are studying hominin environments, their dynamics in the Pleistocene and which impact the environment had on distribution and dispersal. Based on varying case studies we examine interrelations between hominids and their respective ecospaces. In the last years we covered a variety of diverse hominin environments in the Pleistocene, among them habitats in insular Southeast Asia, the Mediterranean, mountain habitats in the Caucasus as well as human environments along the South African coastline. In recent years, we study human and environmental responses to climate shifts with particular focus to MIS 6 (glacial) and MIS 5e (interglacial) in Europe.
In 2018 we are preparing a study of Neanderthals, the environments they preferred in western Europe and their spatial behaviour. We use generated datasets in an agent-based model to simulate and compare Neanderthal behaviours in glacial and interglacial phases. The participants explore a suite of methods, for instance

  • climate reconstruction based on plant fossils (coexistence approach)
  • analysis of climate and vegetation dynamics, both in time and space
  • reconstruction of ecological diversity of large mammal faunas (ecoprofiling)
  • community-based analysis of relations between specialized herbivores, climate, and vegetation
  • GIS-based analysis of spatial datasets
  • agent-based modelling (ABM)

The practical class with a duration of 2 weeks is held at Goethe University, Frankfurt, and regularly takes place in May (in 2018: May 7 – May 18). We are teaching this class in English. We welcome external master and doctoral students. Please note: Due to circumstances beyond our control we are forced in 2018 to offer a module, which is shorter than usual. This does not affect the scope of the class! If you are interested to participate please contact Christine Hertler and/or Angela Bruch as early as possible.

The class is part of a master module in frame of the Master on Ecology and Evolution at the Goethe University in Frankfurt. It is preceded by a three week’s introductory programme on "Paleobiology and Environment" (in 2018: April 9 – 27). In case you are studying within an ERASMUS programme, you may be interested in attending the entire module (6 weeks). If you wish to do so, please contact in addition Birgit Denkel-Oswalt. She will link you up with our ERASMUS office at the Biology Department of Goethe University in Frankfurt. From students outside ERASMUS programmes we require an advance confirmation about an existing accident, legal liability and health insurance. The participation in the course is on your own risk under exclusion of any liability on the part of the university.