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Late Holocene Environmental Changes in Arid Southwestern Madagascar

  • David A. Burney (a1)
Abstract

A 5000-yr stratigraphic record containing fossil pollen, charcoal, and bones of the extinct Quaternary megafauna from Andolonomby, a hypersaline pond in arid southwestern Madagascar, shows evidence for climatic desiccation beginning about 3000 yr B.P. Pollen spectra shift at this time from primarily arboreal taxa characteristic of forests and woodlands of more mesic western Madagascar, to wooded savanna typical of somewhat drier localities. Between 3000 and 2000 yr B.P., the site became increasingly arid. Charcoal and pollen evidence indicates that increased fire and disturbance occurred at the site beginning ca. 1900 yr B.P., probably signaling the beginning of human settlement in the area. The fossil record suggests that various human and natural factors on the island may have interacted in the subsequent millennium to culminate in the extinction of the entire endemic megafauna.

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Quaternary Research
  • ISSN: 0033-5894
  • EISSN: 1096-0287
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