The extinction of the megafauna inMadagascar and surrounding archipelagos (Seychelles, Comoro,
and Mascarene islands) has been associated with evidence of ecological transformations, explained
either by the increase of human activities (Hixon et al., 2018, 2021; Douglass et al., 2019; Godfrey
et al., 2019; Railsback et al., 2020) or hydroclimatic shifts (Virah-Sawmy et al., 2009; Quéméré
et al., 2012) or a combination of both (Salmona et al., 2017; Li et al., 2020; Teixeira et al., 2021).
Whereas the Mascarenes lost their large-bodied endemic species within two centuries, in close
association with human arrival (1638–1691 CE), in Madagascar the process has been estimated
to be far slower, over a period of two millennia from 2,400 to 500 cal yBP (Godfrey et al., 2019). The
temporal overlap of climate- and human-induced impact makes it challenging to discern primary
from secondary causes (Burney et al., 2004; Crowley, 2010). Thus, any ultimate assessment would
need an understanding of the phases of human occupation coupled with a finer temporal resolution
of regional climate and ecological variability.
Over the last few years, the question has been addressed by contributions from a wide spectrum
of disciplines, of which genetics and genomics are among the most promising (e.g., Quéméré
et al., 2012; Williams et al., 2020). The results show a complex web of relationships between
possible causal factors. These findings offer the opportunity to reconsider both human and
climatic factors as agents that can trigger ecological outcomes through processes of direct and
indirect causal chains.
Tofanelli, SergioBertoncini, StefaniaDonati, Giuseppe
Department of Social Sciences
Year of publication: 2022Date of RADAR deposit: 2022-03-11