A Simulation of Anthropogenic Columbian Mammoth Extinction

Faculty Sponsor

Alex Capaldi


Arts and Sciences


Mathematics and Statistics Department

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 5-4-2017


The cause of the extinction of the Columbian mammoth (Mammuthus columbi) and other species of megafauna during the end of the Pleistocene epoch is unknown. The current proposed hypotheses are climate change, disease, a meteor impact, and overkill. In this study, we used mathematical modeling to test the overkill hypothesis first proposed by Paul Martin in 1973. The overkill hypothesis claims that early humans migrating from Asia, through Beringia, and into North America hunted the majority of the continent’s megafauna to extinction. Previous research has been conducted on the overkill hypothesis for the Columbian mammoth using a continuous differential equations model. We improved on this work by developing a computationally more efficient and more realistic discrete stochastic model. Most model parameters were obtained directly from the literature; migration parameters were calibrated to the model. Our results provide evidence in support of the overkill hypothesis.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Matthew Klapman: I am a senior mathematics and statistics double major at Valparaiso University. Within the field of mathematics, I gained interest in biomathematics and modeling when I took the infectious disease modeling class. This inspired my research as I took concepts from this class and fit them to the subject of species extinction.

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