Journal Article


Early human colonization, climate change and megafaunal extinction in Madagascar: The contribution of genetics in a framework of reciprocal causations

Abstract

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.

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Authors

Tofanelli, Sergio
Bertoncini, Stefania
Donati, Giuseppe

Oxford Brookes departments

Department of Social Sciences

Dates

Year of publication: 2022
Date of RADAR deposit: 2022-03-11


Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License


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