Project description:We generated genome-wide data from 69 Europeans who lived between 8,000-3,000 years ago by enriching ancient DNA libraries for a target set of almost 400,000 polymorphisms. Enrichment of these positions decreases the sequencing required for genome-wide ancient DNA analysis by a median of around 250-fold, allowing us to study an order of magnitude more individuals than previous studies and to obtain new insights about the past. We show that the populations of Western and Far Eastern Europe followed opposite trajectories between 8,000-5,000 years ago. At the beginning of the Neolithic period in Europe, ?8,000-7,000 years ago, closely related groups of early farmers appeared in Germany, Hungary and Spain, different from indigenous hunter-gatherers, whereas Russia was inhabited by a distinctive population of hunter-gatherers with high affinity to a ?24,000-year-old Siberian. By ?6,000-5,000 years ago, farmers throughout much of Europe had more hunter-gatherer ancestry than their predecessors, but in Russia, the Yamnaya steppe herders of this time were descended not only from the preceding eastern European hunter-gatherers, but also from a population of Near Eastern ancestry. Western and Eastern Europe came into contact ?4,500 years ago, as the Late Neolithic Corded Ware people from Germany traced ?75% of their ancestry to the Yamnaya, documenting a massive migration into the heartland of Europe from its eastern periphery. This steppe ancestry persisted in all sampled central Europeans until at least ?3,000 years ago, and is ubiquitous in present-day Europeans. These results provide support for a steppe origin of at least some of the Indo-European languages of Europe.
Project description:The Yamnaya expansions from the western steppe into Europe and Asia during the Early Bronze Age (~3000 BCE) are believed to have brought with them Indo-European languages and possibly horse husbandry. We analyzed 74 ancient whole-genome sequences from across Inner Asia and Anatolia and show that the Botai people associated with the earliest horse husbandry derived from a hunter-gatherer population deeply diverged from the Yamnaya. Our results also suggest distinct migrations bringing West Eurasian ancestry into South Asia before and after, but not at the time of, Yamnaya culture. We find no evidence of steppe ancestry in Bronze Age Anatolia from when Indo-European languages are attested there. Thus, in contrast to Europe, Early Bronze Age Yamnaya-related migrations had limited direct genetic impact in Asia.
Project description:The European steppes and their biota have been hypothesized to be either young remnants of the Pleistocene steppe belt or, alternatively, to represent relicts of long-term persisting populations; both scenarios directly bear on nature conservation priorities. Here, we evaluate the conservation value of threatened disjunct steppic grassland habitats in Europe in the context of the Eurasian steppe biome. We use genomic data and ecological niche modelling to assess pre-defined, biome-specific criteria for three plant and three arthropod species. We show that the evolutionary history of Eurasian steppe biota is strikingly congruent across species. The biota of European steppe outposts were long-term isolated from the Asian steppes, and European steppes emerged as disproportionally conservation relevant, harbouring regionally endemic genetic lineages, large genetic diversity, and a mosaic of stable refugia. We emphasize that conserving what is left of Europe's steppes is crucial for conserving the biological diversity of the entire Eurasian steppe biome.
Project description:Medieval era encounters of nomadic groups of the Eurasian Steppe and largely sedentary East Europeans had a variety of demographic and cultural consequences. Amongst these outcomes was the emergence of the Lipka Tatars - a Slavic-speaking Sunni-Muslim ethno-religious minority residing in modern Belarus, Lithuania and Poland, whose ancestors arrived in these territories via several migration waves, mainly from the Golden Horde. Our results show that Belarusian Lipka Tatars share a substantial part of their gene pool with Europeans as indicated by their Y-chromosomal, mitochondrial DNA and autosomal variation. Nevertheless, Belarusian Lipkas still retain a strong genetic signal of their nomadic ancestry, witnessed by the presence of common Y-chromosomal and mitochondrial DNA variants as well as autosomal segments identical by descent between Lipkas and East Eurasians from temperate and northern regions. Hence, we document Lipka Tatars as a unique example of former Medieval migrants into Central Europe, who became sedentary, changed language to Slavic, yet preserved their faith and retained, both uni- and bi-parentally, a clear genetic echo of a complex population interplay throughout the Eurasian Steppe Belt, extending from Central Europe to northern China. 6 samples were analysed with the Illumina platform HumanOmniExpress-24 v1.0 BeadChip and are described herein. Please note that the submitted information does not compromise participant privacy and is in accord with the original consent in addition to all applicable laws, regulations, and institutional policies. The submitter verified that there are no privacy concerns and that our human data can be open access.
Project description:<h4>Questions</h4>What are the main floristic patterns in the Pannonian and western Pontic steppe grasslands? What are the diagnostic species of the major subdivisions of the class <i>Festuco-Brometea</i> (temperate Euro-Siberian dry and semi-dry grasslands)?<h4>Location</h4>Carpathian Basin (E Austria, SE Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia, N Croatia and N Serbia), Ukraine, S Poland and the Bryansk region of W Russia.<h4>Methods</h4>We applied a geographically stratified resampling to a large set of relevés containing at least one indicator species of steppe grasslands. The resulting data set of 17 993 relevés was classified using the TWINSPAN algorithm. We identified groups of clusters that corresponded to the class <i>Festuco-Brometea</i>. After excluding relevés not belonging to our target class, we applied a consensus of three fidelity measures, also taking into account external knowledge, to establish the diagnostic species of the orders of the class. The original TWINSPAN divisions were revised on the basis of these diagnostic species.<h4>Results</h4>The TWINSPAN classification revealed soil moisture as the most important environmental factor. Eight out of 16 TWINSPAN groups corresponded to <i>Festuco-Brometea</i>. A total of 80, 32 and 58 species were accepted as diagnostic for the orders <i>Brometalia erecti</i>, <i>Festucetalia valesiacae</i> and <i>Stipo-Festucetalia pallentis</i>, respectively. In the further subdivision of the orders, soil conditions, geographic distribution and altitude could be identified as factors driving the major floristic patterns.<h4>Conclusions</h4>We propose the following classification of the <i>Festuco-Brometea</i> in our study area: (1) <i>Brometalia erecti</i> (semi-dry grasslands) with <i>Scabioso ochroleucae-Poion angustifoliae</i> (steppe meadows of the forest zone of E Europe) and <i>Cirsio-Brachypodion pinnati</i> (meadow steppes on deep soils in the forest-steppe zone of E Central and E Europe); (2) <i>Festucetalia valesiacae</i> (grass steppes) with <i>Festucion valesiacae</i> (grass steppes on less developed soils in the forest-steppe zone of E Central and E Europe) and <i>Stipion lessingianae</i> (grass steppes in the steppe zone); (3) <i>Stipo-Festucetalia pallentis</i> (rocky steppes) with <i>Asplenio septentrionalis-Festucion pallentis</i> (rocky steppes on siliceous and intermediate soils), <i>Bromo-Festucion pallentis</i> (thermophilous rocky steppes on calcareous soils), <i>Diantho-Seslerion</i> (dealpine <i>Sesleria caerulea</i> grasslands of the Western Carpathians) and <i>Seslerion rigidae</i> (dealpine <i>Sesleria rigida</i> grasslands of the Romanian Carpathians).
Project description:For millennia, the Pontic-Caspian steppe was a connector between the Eurasian steppe and Europe. In this scene, multidirectional and sequential movements of different populations may have occurred, including those of the Eurasian steppe nomads. We sequenced 35 genomes (low to medium coverage) of Bronze Age individuals (Srubnaya-Alakulskaya) and Iron Age nomads (Cimmerians, Scythians, and Sarmatians) that represent four distinct cultural entities corresponding to the chronological sequence of cultural complexes in the region. Our results suggest that, despite genetic links among these peoples, no group can be considered a direct ancestor of the subsequent group. The nomadic populations were heterogeneous and carried genetic affinities with populations from several other regions including the Far East and the southern Urals. We found evidence of a stable shared genetic signature, making the eastern Pontic-Caspian steppe a likely source of western nomadic groups.
Project description:The Neolithic transition was a dynamic time in European prehistory of cultural, social, and technological change. Although this period has been well explored in central Europe using ancient nuclear DNA [1, 2], its genetic impact on northern and eastern parts of this continent has not been as extensively studied. To broaden our understanding of the Neolithic transition across Europe, we analyzed eight ancient genomes: six samples (four to ?1- to 4-fold coverage) from a 3,500 year temporal transect (?8,300-4,800 calibrated years before present) through the Baltic region dating from the Mesolithic to the Late Neolithic and two samples spanning the Mesolithic-Neolithic boundary from the Dnieper Rapids region of Ukraine. We find evidence that some hunter-gatherer ancestry persisted across the Neolithic transition in both regions. However, we also find signals consistent with influxes of non-local people, most likely from northern Eurasia and the Pontic Steppe. During the Late Neolithic, this Steppe-related impact coincides with the proposed emergence of Indo-European languages in the Baltic region [3, 4]. These influences are distinct from the early farmer admixture that transformed the genetic landscape of central Europe, suggesting that changes associated with the Neolithic package in the Baltic were not driven by the same Anatolian-sourced genetic exchange.
Project description:Medieval era encounters of nomadic groups of the Eurasian Steppe and largely sedentary East Europeans had a variety of demographic and cultural consequences. Amongst these outcomes was the emergence of the Lipka Tatars-a Slavic-speaking Sunni-Muslim minority residing in modern Belarus, Lithuania and Poland, whose ancestors arrived in these territories via several migration waves, mainly from the Golden Horde. Our results show that Belarusian Lipka Tatars share a substantial part of their gene pool with Europeans as indicated by their Y-chromosomal, mitochondrial and autosomal DNA variation. Nevertheless, Belarusian Lipkas still retain a strong genetic signal of their nomadic ancestry, witnessed by the presence of common Y-chromosomal and mitochondrial DNA variants as well as autosomal segments identical by descent between Lipkas and East Eurasians from temperate and northern regions. Hence, we document Lipka Tatars as a unique example of former Medieval migrants into Central Europe, who became sedentary, changed language to Slavic, yet preserved their faith and retained, both uni- and bi-parentally, a clear genetic echo of a complex population interplay throughout the Eurasian Steppe Belt, extending from Central Europe to northern China.
Project description:Farming was first introduced to Europe in the mid-seventh millennium bc, and was associated with migrants from Anatolia who settled in the southeast before spreading throughout Europe. Here, to understand the dynamics of this process, we analysed genome-wide ancient DNA data from 225 individuals who lived in southeastern Europe and surrounding regions between 12000 and 500 bc. We document a west-east cline of ancestry in indigenous hunter-gatherers and, in eastern Europe, the early stages in the formation of Bronze Age steppe ancestry. We show that the first farmers of northern and western Europe dispersed through southeastern Europe with limited hunter-gatherer admixture, but that some early groups in the southeast mixed extensively with hunter-gatherers without the sex-biased admixture that prevailed later in the north and west. We also show that southeastern Europe continued to be a nexus between east and west after the arrival of farmers, with intermittent genetic contact with steppe populations occurring up to 2,000 years earlier than the migrations from the steppe that ultimately replaced much of the population of northern Europe.
Project description:Background:Steppe-birds face drastic population declines throughout Europe. The Dupont's lark Chersophilus duponti is an endangered steppe-bird species whose European distribution is restricted to Spain. This scarce passerine bird could be considered an 'umbrella species', since its population trends may reveal the conservation status of shrub-steppes. However, trends for the Spanish, and thus European, population of Dupont's lark are unknown. In this work, we evaluated Dupont's lark population trends in Europe employing the most recent and largest compiled database to date (92 populations over 12 years). In addition, we assessed the species threat category according to current applicable criteria (approved in March 2017) in the Spanish catalogue of threatened species (SCTS), which have never been applied to the Dupont's lark nor to any other Spanish species. Finally, we compared the resulting threat categories with the current conservation status at European, national and regional levels. Methods:We fitted switching linear trend models (software TRIM-Trends and Indices for Monitoring data) to evaluate population trends at national and regional scale (i.e. per Autonomous Community) during the period 2004-2015. In addition, the average finite annual rate of change ( ?¯ ) obtained from the TRIM analysis was employed to estimate the percentage of population size change in a 10-year period. A threat category was assigned following A1 and A2 criteria applicable in the SCTS. Results:Trends showed an overall 3.9% annual decline rate for the Spanish population (moderate decline, following TRIM). Regional analyses showed high inter-regional variability. We forecasted a 32.8% average decline over the next 10 years. According to these results, the species should be listed as 'Vulnerable' at a national scale (SCTS). At the regional level, the conservation status of the species is of particular concern in Andalusia and Castile-Leon, where the species qualifies for listing as 'Endangered'. Discussion:Our results highlight the concerning conservation status of the European Dupont's lark population, undergoing a 3.9% annual decline rate. Under this scenario, the implementation of a wide-ranging conservation plan is urgently needed and is vital to ensuring the conservation of this steppe-bird species. The role of administrations in matters of nature protection and the cataloguing of endangered species is crucial to reverse declining population trends of this and other endangered taxa.