The Small and the Dead: A Review of Ancient DNA Studies Analysing Micromammal Species.

The field of ancient DNA (aDNA) has recently been in a state of exponential growth, largely driven by the uptake of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) techniques. Much of this work has focused on the mammalian megafauna and ancient humans, with comparatively less studies looking at micromammal fauna, despite the potential of these species in testing evolutionary, environmental and taxonomic theories. Several factors make micromammal fauna ideally suited for aDNA extraction and sequencing. Micromammal subfossil assemblages often include the large number of individuals appropriate for population level analyses, and, furthermore, the assemblages are frequently found in cave sites where the constant temperature and sheltered environment provide favourable conditions for DNA preservation. This review looks at studies that include the use of aDNA in molecular analysis of micromammal fauna, in order to examine the wide array of questions that can be answered in the study of small mammals using new palaeogenetic techniques. This study highlights the bias in current aDNA studies and assesses the future use of aDNA as a tool for the study of micromammal fauna.

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