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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 May 28;93(11):5296-300.

Late Holocene human-induced modifications to a central Polynesian island ecosystem.

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  • 1Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.

Abstract

A 7000-year-long sequence of environmental change during the Holocene has been reconstructed for a central Pacific island (Mangaia, Cook Islands). The research design used geomorphological and palynological methods to reconstruct vegetation history, fire regime, and erosion and depositional rates, whereas archaeological methods were used to determine prehistoric Polynesian land use and resource exploitation. Certain mid-Holocene environmental changes are putatively linked with natural phenomena such as eustatic sea-level rise and periodic El NiƱo-Southern Oscillation events. However, the most significant changes were initiated between 2500 and 1800 years and were directly or indirectly associated with colonization by seafaring Polynesian peoples. These human-induced effects included major forest clearance, increased erosion of volcanic hillsides and alluvial deposition in valley bottoms, significant increases in charcoal influx, extinctions of endemic terrestrial species, and the introduction of exotic species.

PMID:
8643569
PMCID:
PMC39239
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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