Tina Lüdecke

Group Leader
Lüdecke Group
+4961313056600
B.1.43

Main Focus

My main research interests lie in the reconstruction of early hominin dietary adaptation, with a focus on the onset and evolution of meat consumption and the position of Plio-Pleistocene hominins in African paleo-food webs based on nitrogen isotopes in tooth enamel. Moreover, I reconstruct Neogene paleolandscapes occupied by early hominins, with a focus on C4-grassland expansion as a result of changing ecosystem patterns such as seasonality, precipitation, temperature, atmospheric pCO2-concentration and (the retreat of) tree-cover. To do this, I rely on extensive fieldwork and geochemical approaches including stable isotopes of carbon, oxygen and nitrogen, as well as clumped isotopes and multi-element analysis in a variety of proxy materials such as fossil tooth enamel and pedogenic carbonates. My focus lies on Miocene to Pleistocene south-east African fossil sites (Karonga Basin in Malawi, Manyara Basin in Tanzania, the Urema Basin in Mozambique, and the Cradle of Humankind in South Africa).

My goal is to recognize the processes that link early hominin (dietary) adaptations to changes in the ecosystem they lived in, to evaluate the onset, evolution and importance of animal resource consumption, and to understand the role of dietary flexibility in the extinction and adaptive radiation of early hominin taxa.

Recently, my colleagues and I developed a novel oxidation-denitrification method for analyzing the nitrogen isotopic composition of mineral-bound organic matter in ~5 mg modern and fossil tooth enamel. We established that enamel nitrogen records the isotopic composition of diet and preserves a trophic signal in both a feeding experiment and in natural ecosystems (Leichliter et al., 2021, Lüdecke and Leichliter et al., 2022). Moreover, we demonstrate that nitrogen isotopes in fossil tooth enamel represents a powerful new paleodietary proxy that could help delineate major dietary transitions in ancient vertebrate lineages (Leichliter and Lüdecke et al., 2022).


For list of publication see Google Scholar



Curriculum Vitae

2021 – present

Group leader of the Emmy Noether Group for Hominin Meat Consumption at the Max-Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany.

DFG Project LU 2199/2: The Onset and Evolution of Early Hominin Meat Consumption (HoMeCo) – The position of Plio-Pleistocene hominins in African paleo-food webs based on nitrogen isotopes in tooth enamel

2022 – present

Guest researcher at National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya. Department of Earth Sciences, Paleontology Section (head: Dr. E.K. Ndiema)

2022 – present

Junior faculty member of the Max Planck Graduate Center (MPGC)

2021 – present

Guest researcher at Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (SBiK-F), Frankfurt, Germany. Group Paleoclimate and Paleoenvironmental Dynamics (head: Prof. A. Mulch)

2017 – present

Research Associate at Primate Models for Behavioural Evolution, Institute of Human Sciences, University of Oxford, England (host: Dr. S. Carvalho)

2016 – present

Geochemist for the Paleo-Primate-Project Gorongosa, reconstruction of paleoenvironments of the southern part of the East African Rift, Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique (PIs: Dr. S. Carvalho & Prof. R. Bobe)

2021

Post-Doctoral Researcher at the Climate Geochemistry Department, Max-Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany (head: Prof. G. Haug)

2019 – 2020

Guest researcher at the AMG laboratory, Max-Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany (head: Dr. A. Martínez-García)

2017 – 2020

Post-Doctoral Researcher (DFG-funded) at Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (SBiK-F), Frankfurt, Germany. Group Paleoclimate and Paleoenvironmental Dynamics (head: Prof. A. Mulch)

DFG-ICDP-Project personal grant (LU 2199/1 and /1-2): Early Hominin Adaptation in the Southern East African Rift – Plio-Pleistocene African temperature, ecosystem and early hominin diet patterns across a woodland-grassland savanna boundary

2016 – 2017

Post-Doctoral Researcher, Biomaterials and Biomimetics, College of Dentistry, New York University, New York City, USA. Method-development of simultaneous measurement of absolute concentrations of 71 elements in the periodic table (Li to U) via ICP-MS (head: Prof. T. Bromage)

2011 – 2016

PhD candidate, Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, Frankfurt, Germany. Stable isotope-based reconstruction of Neogene terrestrial archives. Magna cum laude (supervisors: Prof. A. Mulch & Prof. F. Schrenk)

2004 – 2010

Undergraduate education, Gottfried-Wilhelm-Leibniz-University-Hannover, Germany, Diplom geosciences.

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