Publications by authors named "Ogeto Mwebi"

4 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Distinguishing African bovids using Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry (ZooMS): New peptide markers and insights into Iron Age economies in Zambia.

PLoS One 2021 18;16(5):e0251061. Epub 2021 May 18.

Department of Archaeology, Max-Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany.

Assessing past foodways, subsistence strategies, and environments depends on the accurate identification of animals in the archaeological record. The high rates of fragmentation and often poor preservation of animal bones at many archaeological sites across sub-Saharan Africa have rendered archaeofaunal specimens unidentifiable beyond broad categories, such as "large mammal" or "medium bovid". Identification of archaeofaunal specimens through Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry (ZooMS), or peptide mass fingerprinting of bone collagen, offers an avenue for identification of morphologically ambiguous or unidentifiable bone fragments from such assemblages. However, application of ZooMS analysis has been hindered by a lack of complete reference peptide markers for African taxa, particularly bovids. Here we present the complete set of confirmed ZooMS peptide markers for members of all African bovid tribes. We also identify two novel peptide markers that can be used to further distinguish between bovid groups. We demonstrate that nearly all African bovid subfamilies are distinguishable using ZooMS methods, and some differences exist between tribes or sub-tribes, as is the case for Bovina (cattle) vs. Bubalina (African buffalo) within the subfamily Bovinae. We use ZooMS analysis to identify specimens from extremely fragmented faunal assemblages from six Late Holocene archaeological sites in Zambia. ZooMS-based identifications reveal greater taxonomic richness than analyses based solely on morphology, and these new identifications illuminate Iron Age subsistence economies c. 2200-500 cal BP. While the Iron Age in Zambia is associated with the transition from hunting and foraging to the development of farming and herding, our results demonstrate the continued reliance on wild bovids among Iron Age communities in central and southwestern Zambia Iron Age and herding focused primarily on cattle. We also outline further potential applications of ZooMS in African archaeology.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0251061PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8130928PMC
May 2021

Small mammal diversity of Mt. Kenya based on carnivore fecal and surface bone remains.

Zool Res 2019 01 16;40(1):61-69. Epub 2018 Oct 16.

Osteology Section, Department of Zoology, National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi 40658-00100, Kenya;

Ecological dynamics and faunal diversity documentation is normally conducted by direct observation and trapping of live animals. However, surveys of carnivore scat prey and surface bone remains, which are relatively inexpensive, can provide complementary data that expand carnivore diet breadth and may improve accuracy regarding inferences of the ecological dynamics of a given ecosystem. We used this inexpensive method to document species diversity variation with elevation on the leeward (Sirimon) and windward (Chogoria) areas of Mt. Kenya. Bone and fecal specimens were opportunistically collected by walking 2 km in opposite directions from transect points selected at 200-m intervals along the elevational gradient of the study areas. We collected a total of 220 carnivore fecal and owl pellet specimens from both study sites, which were mainly deposited by the spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta), leopard (Panthera pardus), serval (Leptailurus serval), genet (Genetta sp.), and Mackinder’s Cape owl (Bubo capensis mackinderi). Serval scats were the most common, followed by those of the spotted hyena. Scats and bones were found at the lowest density at the lowest elevations, peaked at mid-higher elevations, and then declined at the highest elevations. Based on skeletal analysis only, there were more species in Sirimon (19) than in Chogoria (12). Small fauna (rodents to duiker size bovids) formed the bulk of the identified remains, representing 87.9% of the Sirimon fauna and 90.9% of the Chogoria fauna. The genus Otomys was the dominant prey of the owl and serval in both sites. Three giraffe teeth were found at 3 500 m a.s.l. in Chogoria on the edge of Lake Ellis, suggesting that it is an occasional visitor to such high elevations. This study underscores the value of fecal and bone surveys in understanding the diet and diversity of mammals in ecological ecosystems, but such surveys should be complemented with analysis of hairs found in scats to obtain a more complete list of carnivore prey at Mt. Kenya.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.24272/j.issn.2095-8137.2018.055DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6350108PMC
January 2019

Reconstructing Asian faunal introductions to eastern Africa from multi-proxy biomolecular and archaeological datasets.

PLoS One 2017 17;12(8):e0182565. Epub 2017 Aug 17.

Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany.

Human-mediated biological exchange has had global social and ecological impacts. In sub-Saharan Africa, several domestic and commensal animals were introduced from Asia in the pre-modern period; however, the timing and nature of these introductions remain contentious. One model supports introduction to the eastern African coast after the mid-first millennium CE, while another posits introduction dating back to 3000 BCE. These distinct scenarios have implications for understanding the emergence of long-distance maritime connectivity, and the ecological and economic impacts of introduced species. Resolution of this longstanding debate requires new efforts, given the lack of well-dated fauna from high-precision excavations, and ambiguous osteomorphological identifications. We analysed faunal remains from 22 eastern African sites spanning a wide geographic and chronological range, and applied biomolecular techniques to confirm identifications of two Asian taxa: domestic chicken (Gallus gallus) and black rat (Rattus rattus). Our approach included ancient DNA (aDNA) analysis aided by BLAST-based bioinformatics, Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry (ZooMS) collagen fingerprinting, and direct AMS (accelerator mass spectrometry) radiocarbon dating. Our results support a late, mid-first millennium CE introduction of these species. We discuss the implications of our findings for models of biological exchange, and emphasize the applicability of our approach to tropical areas with poor bone preservation.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0182565PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5560628PMC
October 2017

Efficacy of two lion conservation programs in Maasailand, Kenya.

Conserv Biol 2014 Jun 13;28(3):851-60. Epub 2014 Feb 13.

Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 550 North Park Street, Madison, WI 53706-1404, U.S.A., Living with Lions, P.O. Box 555, Nanyuki 10400, Kenya.

Lion (Panthera leo) populations are in decline throughout most of Africa. The problem is particularly acute in southern Kenya, where Maasai pastoralists have been spearing and poisoning lions at a rate that will ensure near term local extinction. We investigated 2 approaches for improving local tolerance of lions: compensation payments for livestock lost to predators and Lion Guardians, which draws on local cultural values and knowledge to mitigate livestock-carnivore conflict and monitor carnivores. To gauge the overall influence of conservation intervention, we combined both programs into a single conservation treatment variable. Using 8 years of lion killing data, we applied Manski's partial identification approach with bounded assumptions to investigate the effect of conservation treatment on lion killing in 4 contiguous areas. In 3 of the areas, conservation treatment was positively associated with a reduction in lion killing. We then applied a generalized linear model to assess the relative efficacy of the 2 interventions. The model estimated that compensation resulted in an 87-91% drop in the number of lions killed, whereas Lion Guardians (operating in combination with compensation and alone) resulted in a 99% drop in lion killing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cobi.12244DOI Listing
June 2014
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