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Postglacial colonization of Ireland by mustelids, with particular reference to the badger (Meles meles L.)

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There exists some confusion as to the means by which Ireland developed its current mammalian fauna. In this paper, I use a multivariate analysis of cranial measurements to test the hypothesis that Irish mustelids should resemble their Scottish counterparts more so than those from England, thus providing morphological evidence for postglacial colonization via an Ireland/Scotland landbridge. An examination of badger (Meles meles L.), stoat (Mustela erminea L.) and otter (Lutra lutra L.) failed to provide support for this hypothesis. Based on these results and consideration of our knowledge of the ecology of these species, it is concluded that postglacial colonization via a landbridge was unlikely. Evidence for human‐aided colonization is reviewed. It is concluded that, while further morphologic and genetic studies are very much required, the problem of postglacial colonization can only be solved through archaeozoological research.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Mammal Research Group, Department of Zoology, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland

Publication date: March 1, 1996


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