The development and implementation of software for palaeoenvironmental and palaeoclimatological research the Bugs Coleopteran Ecology Package (BugsCEP)

University dissertation from Umeå : Arkeologi och samiska studier

Abstract: This thesis documents the development and application of a unique database orientated software package, BugsCEP, for environmental and climatic reconstruction from fossil beetle (Coleoptera) assemblages. The software tools are described, and the incorporated statistical methods discussed and evaluated with respect to both published modern and fossil data, as well as the author’s own investigations.BugsCEP consists of a reference database of ecology and distribution data for over 5 800 taxa, and includes temperature tolerance data for 436 species. It also contains abundance and summary data for almost 700 sites - the majority of the known Quaternary fossil coleopteran record of Europe. Sample based dating evidence is stored for a large number of these sites, and the data are supported by a bibliography of over 3 300 sources. Through the use of built in statistical methods, employing a specially developed habitat classification system (Bugs EcoCodes), semi-quantitative environmental reconstructions can be undertaken, and output graphically, to aid in the interpretation of sites. A number of built in searching and reporting functions also increase the efficiency with which analyses can be undertaken, including the facility to list the fossil record of species found by searching the ecology and distribution data. The existing Mutual Climatic Range (MCR) climate reconstruction method is implemented and improved upon in BugsCEP, as BugsMCR, which includes predictive modelling and the output of graphs and climate space maps.The evaluation of the software demonstrates good performance when compared to existing interpretations. The standardization method employed in habitat reconstructions, designed to enable the inter-comparison of samples and sites without the interference of differing numbers of species and individuals, also appears to be robust and effective. Quantitative climate reconstructions can be easily undertaken from within the software, as well as an amount of predictive modelling. The use of jackknifing variants as an aid to the interpretation of climate reconstructions is discussed, and suggested as a potential indicator of reliability. The combination of the BugStats statistical system with an enhanced MCR facility could be extremely useful in increasing our understanding of not only past environmental and climate change, but also the biogeography and ecology of insect populations in general.BugsCEP is the only available software package integrating modern and fossil coleopteran data, and the included reconstruction and analysis tools provide a powerful resource for research and teaching in palaeo-environmental science. The use of modern reference data also makes the package potentially useful in the study of present day insect faunas, and the effects of climate and environmental change on their distributions. The reconstruction methods could thus be inverted, and used as predictive tools in the study of biodiversity and the implications of sustainable development policies on present day habitats.BugsCEP can be downloaded from