Sean Hixon

Research Associate
Department of Archaeology
+49 03641 686-746

Main Focus

I am particularly interested in how past human activities and climate change shaped the composition of modern ecological communities. I am motivated to generate knowledge about the past that can help conserve biodiversity and ecosystem services in the future. Since my undergraduate thesis research about stone monument construction and environmental history on Rapa Nui (Easter Island), I have pursued a special interest in past island colonization by humans. During my dissertation research on Madagascar, I used chemical analyses of bones, plants, and lake sediments to help infer potential causes and consequences of intentional animal introductions and subsequent extinctions of native fauna during the past ~2,000 years. I am well versed in the theory underlying radiometric dating and stable isotope fractionation, have a strong background in sample pre-treatment for 14C analysis, and am experienced in data analysis. I am assisting with Big Data collection through the IsoMemo Initiative and am continuing basic research concerning past animal introductions and extinctions on Madagascar.

Curriculum Vitae

I received Bachelor’s degrees in Geology and Anthropology (double major) with a minor in Mathematics from the Clark Honors College of the University of Oregon in 2015. I finished my Master’s degree in Anthropology with distinction at Pennsylvania State University in 2017. I completed my PhD in Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2021.


*Domic A., *Hixon S., Velez M., Ivory S., Douglass K., Brenner M., Curtis J., Culleton B., Kennett D. “Influence of Late Holocene climate change and human occupation on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in southwest Madagascar.” Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution (accepted). *co-first authors

Hixon S., Curtis J., Brenner M., Douglass K., Domic A., Culleton B., Ivory S., Kennett D. “Drought coincided with, but does not explain, Late Holocene megafauna extinctions in SW Madagascar.” Climate 8.8 (2021):

Hixon S., Douglass K., Crowley B., Rakotozafy L., Clark G., Anderson A., Haberle S., Ranaivoarisoa J., Buckley M., Fidiarisoa S., Mbola B., Kennett D. “Late Holocene spread of pastoralism coincides with megafaunal extinction on Madagascar.” Proceedings of the Royal Society B 288.1955 (2021): 20211204.

Hixon S., Douglass K., Godfrey L., Eccles L., Crowley B., Rakotozafy L., Clark G., Haberle S., Anderson A., Wright H., Kennett D. “Ecological Consequences of a Millennium of Introduced Dogs on Madagascar.” Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 9 (2021):

Bechert U., Hixon S., Schmitt, D. “Diurnal variation in serum concentrations of cortisol in captive African (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) elephants.” Zoo Biology (2021):

*Douglass K., *Hixon S., Wright H., Godfrey L., Crowley B., Manjakahery B., Rasolondrainy T., Crossland Z., Radimilahy C. “A critical review of radiocarbon dates clarifies the human settlement of Madagascar.” Quaternary Science Reviews 221 (2019): 105878.                       *co-first authors

Hixon S., DiNapoli, R.J., Hunt T.L., Lipo C.P. “Historical accounts of freshwater use on Rapa Nui (Easter Island).” Journal of the Polynesian Society 129.2 (2019): 163-189.

DiNapoli, R.J., Lipo C.P., Brosnan T., Hunt T.L., Hixon S., Morrison A.E., Becker M. “Rapa Nui (Easter Island) monument (ahu) locations explained by freshwater sources.” PLOS ONE 14.1 (2019). e0210409.

Hixon S., Elliott Smith E., Crowley B., Perry G., Randrianasy J., Ranaivoarisoa J.F., Kennett D., Newsome S. “Nitrogen isotope (δ15N) patterns for amino acids in lemur bones are inconsistent with aridity driving megafaunal extinction in southwestern Madagascar.” Journal of Quaternary Science 33.8 (2018): 958-968.

Hixon S., Lipo C., Hunt T., Lee C. “Using structure from motion mapping to record and analyze details of the colossal hats (pukao) of monumental statues on Rapa Nui (Easter Island).” Advances in Archaeological Practice 6.1 (2018):42-57.

Hixon S., Lipo C.P., McMorran B., Hunt T.L. “The colossal hats (pukao) of monumental statues: an analysis of pukao variability on Rapa Nui (Easter Island).” Journal of Archaeological Science 100 (2018): 148-157.

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