Mid-Holocene vertebrate bone Concentration-Lagerstätte on oceanic island Mauritius provides a window into the ecosystem of the dodo (Raphus cucullatus)

Rijsdijk, Kenneth F., Hume, Julian P., Bunnik, Frans, Florens, F. B. Vincent, Baider, Claudia, Shapiro, Beth, van der Plicht, Johannes, Janoo, Anwar, Griffiths, Owen, van den Hoek Ostende, Lars W., Cremer, Holger, Vernimmen, Tamara, De Louw, Perry G. B., Bholah, Assenjee, Saumtally, Salem, Porch, Nicolas, Haile, James, Buckley, Mike, Collins, Matthew and Gittenberger, Edmund 2009, Mid-Holocene vertebrate bone Concentration-Lagerstätte on oceanic island Mauritius provides a window into the ecosystem of the dodo (Raphus cucullatus), Quaternary science reviews, vol. 28, no. 1-2, pp. 14-24, doi: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2008.09.018.

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Title Mid-Holocene vertebrate bone Concentration-Lagerstätte on oceanic island Mauritius provides a window into the ecosystem of the dodo (Raphus cucullatus)
Author(s) Rijsdijk, Kenneth F.
Hume, Julian P.
Bunnik, Frans
Florens, F. B. Vincent
Baider, Claudia
Shapiro, Beth
van der Plicht, Johannes
Janoo, Anwar
Griffiths, Owen
van den Hoek Ostende, Lars W.
Cremer, Holger
Vernimmen, Tamara
De Louw, Perry G. B.
Bholah, Assenjee
Saumtally, Salem
Porch, NicolasORCID iD for Porch, Nicolas orcid.org/0000-0001-7179-3843
Haile, James
Buckley, Mike
Collins, Matthew
Gittenberger, Edmund
Journal name Quaternary science reviews
Volume number 28
Issue number 1-2
Start page 14
End page 24
Total pages 11
Publisher Elsevier
Place of publication Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Publication date 2009
ISSN 0277-3791
Summary Although the recent history of human colonisation and impact on Mauritius is well documented, virtually no records of the pre-human native ecosystem exist, making it difficult to assess the magnitude of the changes brought about by human settlement. Here, we describe a 4000-year-old fossil bed at Mare aux Songes (MAS) in south-eastern Mauritius that contains both macrofossils (vertebrate fauna, gastropods, insects and flora) and microfossils (diatoms, pollen, spores and phytoliths). With >250 bone fragments/m2 and comprising 50% of all known extinct and extant vertebrate species (ns = 44) of Mauritius, MAS may constitute the first Holocene vertebrate bone Concentration-Lagerstätte identified on an oceanic volcanic island. Fossil remains are dominated by extinct giant tortoises Cylindraspis spp. (63%), passerines (10%), small bats (7.8%) and dodo Raphus cucullatus (7.1%). Twelve radiocarbon ages [four of them duplicates] from bones and other material suggest that accumulation of fossils took place within several centuries. An exceptional combination of abiotic conditions led to preservation of bones, bone collagen, plant tissue and microfossils. Although bone collagen is well preserved, DNA from dodo and other Mauritian vertebrates has proved difficult. Our analysis suggests that from ca 4000 years ago (4 ka), rising sea levels created a freshwater lake at MAS, generating an oasis in an otherwise dry environment which attracted a diverse vertebrate fauna. Subsequent aridification in the south-west Indian Ocean region may have increased carcass accumulation during droughts, contributing to the exceptionally high fossil concentration. The abundance of floral and faunal remains in this Lagerstätte offers a unique opportunity to reconstruct a pre-human ecosystem on an oceanic island, providing a key foundation for assessing the vulnerability of island ecosystems to human impact.
Language eng
DOI 10.1016/j.quascirev.2008.09.018
Field of Research 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity
Socio Economic Objective 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2008 Elsevier Ltd.
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30030869

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