Post-doc Researcher in Focus

Dr Katharina Dulias tells us about her research

My core research interests cover ecology and evolution. More specifically, as a biologist with a strong background in environmental and ancient DNA genomics, my research includes population genetics, impacts on the environment, and responses to environmental change. I am particularly interested in the use of ancient DNA to answer archaeological and ecological questions.

I completed my PhD at the University of Huddersfield under the supervision of Dr Ceiridwen J. Edwards, Prof Martin B. Richards and Dr Maria Pala. In my PhD project “Archaeogenetics and Palaeogenetics of the British Isles” I studied the genomes of ancient human remains from various places and time periods of the British Isles, covering the Neolithic to the Anglo-Saxon period. I analysed maternal and paternal lines of descent, kin relationships and genome-wide data, elucidating social structures.

Currently, I am working as a postdoctoral researcher on the AHRC-funded PATHWAYS project (https://sites.google.com/york.ac.uk/pastoralismtranshumanceinthewe/home, PI Dr Kevin Walsh). This project is investigating the development of transhumance in the Western Alps, in order to study long-distance transhumance, from the Iron Age to the medieval period. As part of this project I will be focussing on the ancient DNA analysis of alpine lake sediment cores in order to trace the presence of sheep, goat and cattle along the transhumance path. 

Sheep in the Alps

Questions relating to this research project aim to address the origin and evolution of long-distance transhumance, including the evolution of pastoral landscapes and temporal management (transhumant) variations and the exploitation of sheep, goat and cattle. The science-based archaeological results of the historic period long-distance transhumance routes analysis will be compared with information from written sources. My part of this collaborative project is to identify the presence of pasture and domesticated livestock through the integration of ancient DNA analysis from lake sediment cores. Colleagues will carry out the palynological analysis of the lake sediment cores, characterise and interpret the range of archaeological remains associated with Iron Age to medieval pastoralism and use zooarchaeological methods to characterise the composition of flocks and herds in the study areas. Strontium and oxygen stable isotopic analysis will be used to reconstruct the mobility of sheep and cattle in the study area, in order to reconstruct the mobility of Iron Age through to medieval individuals. 

Location map of PATHWAYS project

As part of the PATHWAYS project, this research will contribute to our knowledge of past transhumant systems in the Western Alps through the Iron Age to medieval period.