Postglacial Faunal Records From Cave Deposits In Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

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Postglacial Faunal Records From Cave Deposits In Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

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Postglacial Faunal Records From Cave Deposits In Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
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National Cave and Karst Research Institute
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Christopher N. Jass Quaternary Paleontology Program, Royal Alberta Museum 12845-102 Ave. Edmonton, Alberta, T5N 0M6, Canada chris.jass@gov.ab.ca Dave Critchley Senior Faculty Researcher Instructor, Biological Sciences School of Sustainable Building and Environmental Management Northern Alberta Institute of Technology 11762 106 Street, Office E106 Edmonton, Alberta, T5G 2R1, Canada dcritchl@nait.ca Greg Horne Resource Management Specialist, Jasper National Park P.O. Box 10 Jasper, Alberta, T0E 1E0, Canada greg.horne@pc.gc.ca AbstractIn 2009, we initiated an on-going, long term research project that focuses on exploration of fossil-bearing cave deposits in Jasper National Park. Specifically, we were interested in understanding patterns of mammalian re-colonization of mountainous regions following late Pleistocene deglaciation. Our work has focused on the identification of fossil-bearing cave deposits, excavation and sampling of those deposits, and radiocarbon dating of recovered remains. Examined sites have at least an age of 9600 years BP. Research at four cave sites, located in relatively close proximity to one another, is contributing to an improved understanding of the late Quaternary record of Jasper National Park. This project is an example of a cooperating partnership between institutions (museum, national park and technical college) and assistance from a speleological society.
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Christopher N. Jass Quaternary Paleontology Program, Royal
Alberta Museum 12845-102 Ave. Edmonton, Alberta, T5N 0M6,
Canada chris.jass@gov.ab.ca
Dave Critchley Senior Faculty Researcher Instructor,
Biological Sciences School of Sustainable Building and
Environmental Management Northern Alberta Institute of
Technology 11762 106 Street, Office E106 Edmonton, Alberta, T5G
2R1, Canada dcritchl@nait.ca
Greg Horne Resource Management Specialist, Jasper National
Park P.O. Box 10 Jasper, Alberta, T0E 1E0, Canada
greg.horne@pc.gc.ca
AbstractIn 2009, we initiated an on-going, long term
research project that focuses on exploration of fossil-bearing
cave deposits in Jasper National Park. Specifically, we were
interested in understanding patterns of mammalian
re-colonization of mountainous regions following late
Pleistocene deglaciation. Our work has focused on the
identification of fossil-bearing cave deposits, excavation and
sampling of those deposits, and radiocarbon dating of recovered
remains. Examined sites have at least an age of 9600 years BP.
Research at four cave sites, located in relatively close
proximity to one another, is contributing to an improved
understanding of the late Quaternary record of Jasper National
Park. This project is an example of a cooperating partnership
between institutions (museum, national park and technical
college) and assistance from a speleological society.



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20th National Cave and Karst Management Symposium NCKRI SYMPOSIUM 19regions of Alberta following recession of Cordilleran Ice in the late Pleistocene. Here we summarize the results of National Park and discuss the implications of that work for understanding Quaternary vertebrate biogeography at northern latitudes.DiscussionDisaster Point CaveDisaster Point Cave is located in the front ranges (eastern side) of the Canadian Rocky Mountains at 1082 m. The cave entrances occur at the base of a rather steep natural depression. Because of the position and structure of the cave entrances, the cave acts as a funnel for sediments, drifting snow and debris deposited upslope of the entrances. The cave also serves as a natural trap for many animals because of near-vertical aspects of its two entrances. surface collection throughout the cave and systematic fauna from Disaster Point Cave is presented in Table 1. Remains of mammals and anurans are the most common components of the assemblage, and a surprisingly rich assemblage of land snails was recovered. AMS radiocarbon dates of 1700 30 yr BP and 2650 in the Terminal Dig suggest that the sequence of late Holocene faunal remains is relatively continuous. A slightly older AMS radiocarbon date (6090 40 yr BP) on bone collagen from a pelvis of Ursus americanus provides the current known maximum age for fauna preserved in the cave.AbstractIn 2009, we initiated an on-going, long term research project that focuses on exploration of fossil-bearing were interested in understanding patterns of mammalian re-colonization of mountainous regions following late Pleistocene deglaciation. Our work has focused on the and sampling of those deposits, and radiocarbon dating of recovered remains. Examined sites have at least an age of 9600 years BP. Research at four cave sites, located in relatively close proximity to one another, is contributing to an improved understanding of the late Quaternary record of Jasper National Park. This project is an example of a cooperating partnership between institutions (museum, national park and technical college) and assistance from a speleological society.IntroductionPrevious studies concerning Quaternary faunal remains from the Canadian Rocky Mountains highlighted the potential for recovery of rich vertebrate assemblages in cave deposits (Burns 1982, 1989, 1991, 2004). Despite those studies, relatively few caves in the mountainous interior of western Canada have been systematically explored and evaluated for paleontological remains. In 2009, we initiated a research project that focused on exploration of fossilbearing cave deposits in Jasper National Park. At the outset of the project our objectives were to better understand prehistoric resources preserved within park boundaries and to explore research questions surrounding the Quaternary record of animals in understanding patterns of recolonization in mountainous Dave CritchleySenior Faculty Researcher Instructor, Biological Sciences School of Sustainable Building and Environmental Management Northern Alberta Institute of Technology 11762 106 Street, Office E106 Edmonton, Alberta, T5G 2R1, Canada dcritchl@nait.ca Christopher N. JassQuaternary Paleontology Program, Royal Alberta Museum 12845-102 Ave. Edmonton, Alberta, T5N 0M6, Canada chris.jass@gov.ab.caGreg HorneResource Management Specialist, Jasper National Park P.O. Box 10 Jasper, Alberta, T0E 1E0, Canada greg.horne@pc.gc.caPOSTGLACIAL F AUNAL RECORDS FROM CAVE DEPOSITS IN JASPER NA TIONAL P ARK, ALBERT A, CANADA

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NCKRI SYMPOSIUM 20th National Cave and Karst Management Symposium20 TAXON DPC Terminal Dig DPC Surface Survey Procrastination Pot Ice Trap Osteichthyes Osteichthyes indet. X Serpentes Serpentes indet. X Amphibia Anura indet. X Bufo sp. X Caudata indet. X Mammalia Chiroptera indet. X X X Sorex sp. X Heteromyidae X Erithizon dorsatum X X Tamiasciurus hudsonicus X X Marmota sp. X X Muridae X Arvicolinae indet. X Neotoma sp. X X X Lepus sp. X Lynx sp. X Mustela sp. X X Gulo gulo X X Ursus americanus X Ursus sp. X X Ovis canadensis X cf. Oreamnos americanus cf.Table 1. Summary of identified faunal remains from Disaster Point Cave (DPC), Procrastination Pot and Ice Trap. X = present, cf. = tentative identification.

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20th National Cave and Karst Management Symposium NCKRI SYMPOSIUM 21most recent glacial periods. The known caves often are found in alpine plateaus, ridges, or steep slopes. Glacial cave entrances a rare phenomenon. Recovered remains provide insight into the post-glacial recolonization of the Canadian Rocky Mountains following deglaciation. AMS radiocarbon dates on woodrat dung from Ice Trap indicate the presence of small mammals at high elevations of the Canadian Rocky Mountains by 9600 yr BP and even some ungulates by 9000 yr BP (Anticline Arch Cave). Faunal remains from Procrastination Pot and Disaster Point Cave suggest that much of the modern biota of Jasper National Park was present by the mid-Holocene at the latest. of Procrastination Pot, resembling a bed of pine needles, implores more investigation. Although the current residents are little brown myotis (Myotis lucifugus), examination of skulls could be undertaken to determine if there has been any shift in species use of this cave. This research project is an example of a cooperating partnership between institutions (museum, national park and technical college) and assistance from a speleological society. The Royal Alberta Museum has the paleontological expertise, Jasper National Park provides the local area knowledge and logistic support, study and travel skills and the Alberta Speleological Society travel skills and logistic support. Three of the four caves require single rope technique to access the cave environment.AcknowledgementsAll work reported here was conducted under a research permit (JNP-2009-2172) from Parks Canada. We thank the Royal Alberta Museum (Government of Alberta), Parks Canada for funding and support and Northern equipment. Kevin Abma, Nate de Bock, and David Renata Brunner Jass provided helpful comments.ReferencesBurns, J.A., 1982, Water vole Microtus richardsoni (Mammmalia, Rodentia) from the late Pleistocene of Alberta: Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, v. 19, p. 628-631.Procrastination PotProcrastination Pot is a cave located on a ridge below tree line at 1650 m along the front ranges of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Like Disaster Point Cave, the triple pit entrances of Procrastination Pot act as natural funnels or traps. Living inhabitants of the cave include bushy-tailed wood rats (Neotoma cinerea) and little brown myotis (Myotis lucifugus). The most recent winter census (2011) recorded 700 bats using the cave as a hibernaculum. Vast quantities of bat bones (some this cave. A radiocarbon date of 5780 110 yr BP on a sample of bear (Ursus ) bone indicates a mid-Holocene age for portions of the cave.Ice TrapIce Trap is a high elevation cave, situated above tree line at 2183 m. The vast majority of the cave environment remains at subzero Celsius temperatures throughout the year and houses impressive ice formations. With a total surveyed length of over 3 kilometres and a depth of m, it is Jaspers longest and deepest cave. Surface skeletal remains and dung of woodrats (Neotoma sp.) and marmots (Marmota sp.) are abundant near the entrance. Woodrat droppings are found more than 500 m from the single known entrance. Indurated woodrat middens occur in at least two areas of the cave. Radiocarbon dating of individual dung pellets from one of the middens resulted in an early post-glacial age assignment (9600 40 yr BP) for at least one area of the cave. That record Quaternary microfauna from western Canada. Another radiocarbon date (4620 40 yr BP), based on a bulk sample from a second indurated midden, suggests a midHolocene age for use of the entrance areas of the cave.Anticline Arch CaveAnticline Arch Cave is situated near Ice Trap at a similar elevation. Environmentally and structurally, Anticline This cave is only 28 metres long and -13 metres deep. However, a radiocarbon date on an ungulate tibia (9000 40 yr BP) indicates that faunal material from the site is of comparable age to the oldest remains sampled from Ice Trap Cave.ConclusionCaves of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, for the most part, are relic fossil passages left over from before the

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NCKRI SYMPOSIUM 20th National Cave and Karst Management Symposium22Burns, J.A., 1989, Fossil vertebrates from Rats Nest Cave, Alberta: Canadian Caver, v. 21, no. 1, p. 41-43. Burns, J.A., 1991, Mid-Wisconsinan vertebrates and their environment from January Cave, Alberta, Canada: Quaternary Research, v. 35, p. 130-143. Burns, J.A., 2004, Late Pleistocene lemmings (Lemmus trimucronatus and Dicrostonyx groenlandicus; Muridae:Rodentia) from Alberta, Canada: Journal of Mammalogy, v. 85, p. 379-383.


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