Dr Pete Heintzman

Postdoctoral Researcher

UCSC Paleogenomics Lab
University of Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz, CA 95064

Tel:  +44 (0)1784 443769

Current Research

Phylogeography of North American Ice Age Beetles using Ancient DNA

Predicted future climatic change is likely to result in the colonisation of new regions by species. Historical periods of colonisation can be used to predict the timing and way in which future events may unfold. This study is investigating the way in which beetles in North America recolonised Canada at the end of the last ice age, using information from both modern and ancient beetle individuals. The results show a more complicated pattern of recolonisation than previously thought, with traditional recolonisation scenarios failing to explain the observed data.


Dr Ian Barnes (Royal Holloway, University of London)
Prof. Scott Elias (Royal Holloway, University of London)


Research Strategy Fund (RHUL)
RHUL Reid Scholarshi

Phylogeography of the extinct Eurasian Giant Deer, Megaloceros giganteus

Recent work by Adrian Lister (NHM) and Tony Stuart (Durham) has focused on radiocarbon dating M. giganteus remains, and using the geographic distribution of these remains to infer where the terminal populations of this ice-age giant resided, of which the Ural region of Russia is a prime candidate for this terminal refugium. I will be extracting DNA from this radiocarbon dated material, in order to test phylogeographic questions, such as how were the members of the terminal, Russian population related to individuals of the well known Irish population? Was there a high rate of population turnover, as is seen in other late Pleistocene mammals, or did populations simply move around the landscape?

Dr Ian Barnes (Royal Holloway, University of London)

Phylogeny and Diversity of the Perissodactyla (Mammalia): Correlations between Palaeodiversity and Cenozoic Climate

This research is building on my MSc work (described below), in which I constructed a species level supertree of the Perissodactyla. An updated tree contains a total of 337 species (16 extant, 321 fossil). After adding this tree to known stratigraphic distributions, two distinct peaks in palaeodiversity have emerged, which correspond to the mid-Eocene and mid-Miocene climatic optima, therefore indicating a possible climatic control on the diversity of this group.

Dr. James Tarver (Dartmouth College/University of Bristol)
Dr. Marcello Ruta (University of Bristol)
Prof. Mike Benton (University of Bristol)

Previous Research:

A species level compendium and supertree of the Perissodactyla (Mammalia)

My MSc project involved compiling a species level compendium of the extinct and extant Perissodactyla (Mammalia). A supertree, consisting of 312 species, was constructed using both morphological and molecular data. Furthermore, I divided the data and analysed the subsets separately before ‘grafting’ these together, in order to compare the estimate created by this and a global analysis of the data. Lastly, I constructed phylogenies from molecular and morphological data separately, in order to ascertain regions of perissodactyl phylogeny in which these two data sources are in conflict.

Dr. James Tarver (Dartmouth College/University of Bristol)
Dr. Marcello Ruta (University of Bristol)
Prof. Mike Benton (University of Bristol)

Review of the Late Ordovician palaeoclimate and environment; and how these factors coincided with Mass Extinction

My BSc dissertation reviewed our knowledge of the causes of the late Ordovician mass extinction. The extinction occurred as a two-phase event, which was related to coincidental environmental changes, caused by the glaciation and subsequent deglaciation of the Gondwanan landmass at the end of the Rawtheyan and during the middle of the Hirnantian stages, respectively.

Prof. David Beerling (University of Sheffield)

A comparison of coal seam palaeoecology from two Carboniferous (Namurian) localities in the Peak District National Park

For my BSc project, I reconstructed a deltaic Carboniferous palaeoenvironment, using plant megaspores from a small coal seam. A cycling of ecological successions occurring through time was observed, to which I attributed fire as the restart mechanism (fires were far more common in the Carboniferous, due to the higher oxygen content of the atmosphere).

Dr. Charles Wellman (University of Sheffield)

Publications in prep:

Heintzman, P. D., Mack, L., Elias, S. A. & Barnes, I. (in prep) Here, there and everywhere: Global genetic structuring and the postglacial recolonisation of North America by the arctic ground beetle Amara alpina using museum and ancient DNA.

Bell, M. A., Saarinen, J. & Heintzman, P. D. (in prep) Modeling trends of body-size evolution across the Perissodactyla (Mammalia).


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