David B. Patterson

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David B. Patterson

Resource Faculty (GW); Faculty in Biology (University of North Georgia)


I am a paleobiologist with research interests centering on the relationship between ecosystem change and mammalian evolution in eastern and southern Africa. Prior to working in Africa, I investigated these same types of questions in North American mammal communities, particularly in the southeastern United States. In my research I use a variety of methods including traditional paleontological analyses, stable isotope geochemistry of mammalian enamel and fossil soils as well as ecometrics.


African ecosystems, stable isotope geochemistry, mammalian dietary evolution, faunal analysis, human evolution

My current research program focuses on the intersection between ecosystem change and hominin behavior in eastern and southern Africa. By placing hominin evolution within a resolved ecological framework, we can begin to understand the nature and context of important changes in the biology of our ancestors. Fieldwork is crucial to my research program. I currently work in collaboration with the Koobi Fora Research and Training Program (Koobi Fora Field School) in the Turkana Basin of northern Kenya, but have active programs in South Africa and Ethiopia. Increasingly, my work focuses on understanding the ecological dynamics of extant mammal communities in eastern and southern Africa for insights into hominin and non-hominin ecology during the Pleistocene.

Selected Publications:

Patterson, D.B., Lehmann, S.B., Matthews, T., Levin, N.E., Stynder, D., Braun, D.R. (2016) Stable isotope ecology of dune mole-rats (Bathyergus suillus) from Elandsfontein, South Africa: implications for C4 vegetation and hominin paleobiology in the Cape Floral Region. Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, Palaeogeography. 457:409-421.

Faith, J.T., Patterson, D.B., Blegen, N., O’Neil, C.J., Marean, C.W., Peppe, D.J., Tryon, C.A. (2016) Size variation in Tachyoryctes splendens (Mammalia, Spalacidae) and its implications for late Quaternary temperature change in equatorial East Africa. Quaternary Science Reviews 140:39-48.

Fortelius, M., Zliobaite, Kaya, F., Bibi, F., Bobe, R., Leakey, L., Leakey, M., Patterson, D.B., Rannikko, J., Werdelin, L. (2016) An ecometric analysis of the fossil mammal record of the Turkana Basin. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society Biology 371:20150232

Lyons, S.K., Amatangelo, K.L., Behrensmeyer, A.K., Bercovici, A., Blois, J.L., Davis, M., DiMichele, W.A., Du, A., Eronen, J.T., Faith, J.T., Graves, G.R., Judd, N., Labandeira, C., Looy, C., McGill, B., Miller, J.H., Patterson, D.B., Pineda-Munoz, S., Potts, R., Riddle, B., Terry, R., Tóth, A., Ulrich, W., Villasenor, A., Wing, S., Anderson, H., Anderson, J, Waller, D., Gotelli, N.J. (2016) Holocene shifts in the assembly of plant and animal communities implicate human impacts. Nature 529:80-83.

Lehmann, S.B., Braun, D.R., Dennis, K.J., Patterson, D.B., Stynder, D.D., Bishop, L.C., Forrest, F., Levin, N.E. (2016) Environmental change in South Africa during the Pliocene and Pleistocene. Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, Palaeogeography. 457:396-408.

Tryon, C.A., Faith, J.T., Peppe, D.J., Beverly, E.J., Blegen, N., Blumenthal, S., Chritz, K., Driese, S., Patterson, D.B. (In Press) The Pleistocene prehistory of the Lake Victoria Basin. Quaternary International. 404:100-114.

Tryon, C.A., Crevecoeur, I., Faith, J.T., Ekshtain, R., Nivens, J., Patterson, D.B., Mbua, E., Spoor, F. (2015) Late Pleistocene age and archaeological context for the hominin calvaria from GvJm-22 (Lukenya Hill, Kenya). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112:2682-2687.

Patterson, D.B., Faith, T., Bobe, R., Wood, B. (2014) Regional diversity patterns in African bovids, hyaenids, and felids during the past 3 million years: the role of taphonomic bias and implications for the evolution of Paranthropus. Quaternary Science Reviews 96:9-22

Blois, J., Goetelli, N.J., Behrensmeyer, A.K., Faith, J.T., Lyons, S.K., Williams, J.W., Amantangelo, K.L., Bercovici, A., Du, A., Eronen, J.T., Graves, G., Jud, N., Labandiera, C., Looy, C.V., McGill, B., Patterson, D.B., Potts, R., Riddle, B., Terry, R., Toth, A., Villasenor, A., Wing, S. (2014) A framework for evaluating the influence of climate, dispersal limitation, and biotic interactions using fossil pollen   associations across the late Quaternary. Ecography 37:1095-1008.

Miller, J.H., Behrensmeyer, A.K., Du, A., Lyons, S.K., Patterson, D.B., Toth, A., Villasenor, A., Kanga, E., Reed, D. (2014) Ecological fidelity of functional traits based on species presence-absence in a modern mammalian bone assemblage (Amboseli, Kenya). Paleobiology 40:560-583

Tryon, C.A., Faith, J.T., Peppe, D.J., Keegan, W.F., Keegan, K.N., Jenkins, K.H., Nightingale, S., Patterson, D.B., Van Platinga, A., Driese, S., Johnson, C.R. (2014) Sites on the landscape: Paleoenvironmental context of late Pleistocene archaeological sites from the Lake Victoria Basin, equatorial East Africa. Quaternary International 331:20-30.

Patterson, D.B., Mead, A.J., Bahn, R.A, (2012) New skeletal remains of Mammuthus columbi from Glynn County, Georgia with notes on their historical and paleoecological significance.  Southeastern Naturalist 11(2):163-172. (cover article)



B.S. 2007, Biology, Georgia College and State University

M.S. 2009, Biology, Georgia College and State University

Ph.D. 2016, Human Paleobiology, The George Washington University