DataPDF Available

Requiem aeternam: the last five hundred years of mammalian species extinctions

Authors:
A preview of the PDF is not available

File (1)

... The insular Caribbean (the Greater and Lesser Antilles and Bahamian Archipelago) is one of the few 'oceanic-type' (non-continental shelf ) island groups colonized by numerous land mammal lineages, and had a diverse late Quaternary non-volant fauna including megalonychid sloths, primates, eulipotyphlan insectivores, and caviomorph and muroid rodents [17,18]. However, this region experienced the world's highest level of mammalian extinctions during both the Holocene and the post-1500 ce historical period [18][19][20][21]. Only 13 species (11 rodents, two eulipotyphlans) probably survive today, most of which are threatened [19] and are recognized as global conservation priorities based upon evolutionary history [22]. ...
... Previous research into Caribbean extinctions has focused on establishing last-occurrence dates for extinct species, and correlating these dates with the timing of different historical threat processes [18,21]. However, in addition to ongoing problems with preservation of organic biomolecules for radiometric dating in tropical environments, this approach can be confounded by the complexity of recognizing cause and effect in systems that have experienced multiple stressors, whereby populations might experience protracted declines to extinction following the appearance of particular threats, and with extinction drivers potentially interacting synchronously or synergistically [25]. ...
... The smallest Australian mammals are considered more resilient to these invasive predators because of higher population growth rates [7]. By contrast, the Caribbean fauna lacks native murids and its biodiversity is threatened by invasive murids, notably black rats (Rattus rattus), as well as mongooses [19], and the timing of rat and mongoose introduction is closely correlated with last-sighting dates for several now-extinct small Caribbean mammals [21,64]. Interestingly, mongoose presence/absence did not correlate with survival probability in our models, possibly because mongooses are present not only on islands that have lost their native mammals, but also on larger islands that retain surviving species (Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica). ...
Article
Full-text available
Preventing extinctions requires understanding macroecological patterns of vulnerability or persistence. However, correlates of risk can be nonlinear, within-species risk varies geographically, and current-day threats cannot reveal drivers of past losses. We investigated factors that regulated survival or extinction in Caribbean mammals, which have experienced the globally highest level of human-caused postglacial mammalian extinctions, and included all extinct and extant Holocene island populations of non-volant species (219 survivals or extinctions across 118 islands). Extinction selectivity shows a statistically detectable and complex body mass effect, with survival probability decreasing for both mass extremes, indicating that intermediate-sized species have been more resilient. A strong interaction between mass and age of first human arrival provides quantitative evidence of larger mammals going extinct on the earliest islands colonized, revealing an extinction filter caused by past human activities. Survival probability increases on islands with lower mean elevation (mostly small cays acting as offshore refugia) and decreases with more frequent hurricanes, highlighting the risk of extreme weather events and rising sea levels to surviving species on low-lying cays. These findings demonstrate the interplay between intrinsic biology, regional ecology and specific local threats, providing insights for understanding drivers of biodiversity loss across island systems and fragmented habitats worldwide.
... Rice rats are abundant in archaeological assemblages and show clear evidence of consumption (cutting and burning marks) (Grouard, 2007), though are now extinct across the Lesser Antilles, with the last living specimen recorded during the mid-late 19th century (Allen, 1942;Ray, 1962). Traditional reasons for small mammal extinction on islands include the introduction of competing species (MacPhee and Flemming, 1999) such as rats (Rattus rattus and R. norvegicus) or new predators like the cat (Felis silvestris) (Henderson, 1992), the Small Indian mongoose (Herpestidae, Urva auropunctata) (Grouard, 2001;Henderson, 1992;Horst et al., 2001), and the raccoon (Procyonidae, Procyon lotor) (Louppe et al., in press), or overhunting (Ray, 1962;Steadman et al., 1984;Trouessart, 1885), along with the transformation of the landscapes and deforestation (Boudadi-Maligne et al., 2016). Yet the specific causes of rice rat extinction in the Lesser Antilles still remains unclear. ...
... Information about the sites can be found in Table 1. Grey shadows indicate the geological banks exposed during the Pleistocene (Hedges, 2001;MacPhee and Flemming, 1999;Pregill et al., 1994). Dashed lines in the North mark the Anegada passage (Jany et al., 1990) and in the South Koopmans' Line (Genoways et al., 2010). ...
... Dashed lines in the North mark the Anegada passage (Jany et al., 1990) and in the South Koopmans' Line (Genoways et al., 2010). Jansa et al., 2006), as stowaway like the black rat (Rattus rattus; MacPhee and Flemming, 1999;Vigne and Valladas, 1996) or intentional transportation like the domestic guinea pig (Cavia porcellus; Kimura et al., 2016;LeFebvre and deFrance, 2014;Lord et al., 2018). Morphological similarities between rodent populations can be used to explore the type of dispersal (e.g. ...
Article
During the Ceramic Age (500 BCE–1500 CE), Lesser Antilles rice rats (Tribe Oryzomyini) made up a significant portion of the diet of Caribbean islanders. Archaeological excavations across the archipelago resulted to the discovery of large quantities of remains from to these now extinct taxa. It offers a unique opportunity to investigate the past biogeography of this taxon of high cultural and ecological importance. We have studied 1140 first lower molars originating from 40 archaeological sites across eleven islands of the Lesser Antilles archipelago using two-dimensional geometric morphometric approaches to establish spatiotemporal patterns relying on phenotypic variations. This study identified three morphological groups, present in all chrono-cultural periods, that were geographically restricted and consistent with published ancient mitochondrial DNA clusters. These three geographically-separate groups likely represent three distinct genera of rice rats. The first group includes specimens from the North of the archipelago (Saint-Martin, Saba, Saint-Eustatius, Saint-Kitts, and Nevis) and likely referable to as Pennatomys sp.; the second, occurring in the South (Martinique), is assigned to Megalomys desmarestii; and the third corresponds to specimens from the center of the Lesser Antilles (Antigua, Barbuda, Marie-Galante, and Guadeloupe) and likely corresponds to Antillomys sp. These oryzomyine morphotypes are present during all studied periods and support an older presence of these rodents in the region. Our results are congruent with ancient DNA studies that favor the hypothesis of a natural introduction of the group in the archipelago before settlement of human populations. Moreover, the observed phenotypic homogeneity and stability over the 2000 years of Pre-Columbian occupation suggests that rice rats were not part of long-distance inter-island exchanges by humans. Instead, rice rat human consumption was likely based on in-situ hunting of local populations.
... Invasive plant species are considered to be one of the greatest threats to the long-term conservation of biological diversity in both terrestrial and aquatic habitats worldwide (Courchamp et al., 2003). Global extinctions recorded over the past six centuries have been dominated by invasive species, and introduced mammals are recognized as the main cause (MacPhee andFlemming 1999 andAguirre et al. 2005). According to Aguirre et al.(2005) invasive species has multiple effects on native species by: 1) alteration of plant populations and the animals which rely on them; 2) predation; 3) competition for local resources and habitat disruption; 4) dispersal of micro and macro parasites; 5) genetic transformation of native populations through hybridization; and 6) prey on native predators (changing the food chain). ...
... Invasive plant species are considered to be one of the greatest threats to the long-term conservation of biological diversity in both terrestrial and aquatic habitats worldwide (Courchamp et al., 2003). Global extinctions recorded over the past six centuries have been dominated by invasive species, and introduced mammals are recognized as the main cause (MacPhee andFlemming 1999 andAguirre et al. 2005). According to Aguirre et al.(2005) invasive species has multiple effects on native species by: 1) alteration of plant populations and the animals which rely on them; 2) predation; 3) competition for local resources and habitat disruption; 4) dispersal of micro and macro parasites; 5) genetic transformation of native populations through hybridization; and 6) prey on native predators (changing the food chain). ...
Article
Full-text available
species (ITS) are organisms that are either intentionally or non-intentionally introduced to a new geographic area. The majority of introduced species usually cannot survive in their new habitats. Some turn into Invasive Species (IS) when they become more aggressive and outcompete with the native species. Introduced and Invasive species poses both positive and negative impacts to the native species and the environment. Saanane Island National Park (SINP) is among of 22 National Parks found in Tanzania. This study was conducted at SINP to determine the current status of introduced and invasive as they poses possible positive and negative impacts to the sustainability of the park. We report a total of 20 plant IS and 14 ITS of animals recorded since 1968 at SINP. Some introduced animals notably Lion (Panthera leo), Nile Perch (Lates niloticus), Wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus), Zebra (Equus quagga) and peacock (Pavo cristatus) have significantly improved the attractiveness of SINP as tourist destination at Mwanza City. This study also shows that 93 per cent of tourists who visited SINP in 2020 did so because wanted to see these ITS. However, most of the ITS have struggled either to survive or to adapt to the environment at SINP. Similarly, plant IS identified included Lantana camara, Leucaena leocaphala and Eichhornia crassipes which are among the top 100 worst invasive species listed by International Centre for Nature Conservation (IUCN). These IS have been a scourge and are associated to many problems such as reducing attractiveness of SINP through impeding animal or vessel passage, destroying habitats, outcompeting with native plants, reducing visibility, causing disease, reducing range size and destroying phytoplankton communities that sustain a healthy aquatic ecosystems. The findings from this study will be helpful to SINP and other protected areas for effective management and control of invasive and introduced species which is key in conservation, maintenance, restoration of biodiversity and attractiveness of protected areas.
... Non-native mammals introduced to areas beyond the limits of their native distributions are widely recognized as the cause of species declines, extirpations, and extinctions worldwide (Atkinson 1989, Steadman 1995, MacPhee and Flemming 1999, Campbell and Donlan 2005. Their direct and indirect impacts on ecological processes are particularly devastating in insular ecosystems, where many species evolved in the absence of predatory and large herbivorous mammals (Atkinson 1985, Steadman 1995, MacPhee and Flemming 1999, Courchamp et al. 2003, Donlan and Wilcox 2008. ...
... Non-native mammals introduced to areas beyond the limits of their native distributions are widely recognized as the cause of species declines, extirpations, and extinctions worldwide (Atkinson 1989, Steadman 1995, MacPhee and Flemming 1999, Campbell and Donlan 2005. Their direct and indirect impacts on ecological processes are particularly devastating in insular ecosystems, where many species evolved in the absence of predatory and large herbivorous mammals (Atkinson 1985, Steadman 1995, MacPhee and Flemming 1999, Courchamp et al. 2003, Donlan and Wilcox 2008. Seabirds, many of which nest on islands and exhibit high nest-site fidelity, are typically vulnerable and defenseless against non-native mammals in their colonies (Lack 1968). ...
Article
Full-text available
Journal of Caribbean Ornithology "A minimum of nine species of introduced mammals inhabit at least 19 remote islands throughout the Grenadines-an archipelago that hosts globally and regionally significant colonies of breeding seabirds and represents one of the few remaining strongholds for seabirds in the Lesser Antilles. This paper presents a contemporary inventory of non-native mammal species on islands in the Grenadines, with a particular focus on breeding seabirds and protected areas, and explores the wider implications of complex sociocultural barriers to conservation."
Article
Full-text available
Assemblages of large mammal species play a disproportionate role in the structure and composition of natural habitats. Loss of these assemblages destabilizes natural systems, while their recovery can restore ecological integrity. Here we take an ecoregion-based approach to identify landscapes that retain their historically present large mammal assemblages, and map ecoregions where reintroduction of 1–3 species could restore intact assemblages. Intact mammal assemblages occur across more than one-third of the 730 terrestrial ecoregions where large mammals were historically present, and 22% of these ecoregions retain complete assemblages across > 20% of the ecoregion area. Twenty species, if reintroduced or allowed to recolonize through improved connectivity, can increase the area of the world containing intact large mammal assemblages by 54% (11 116 000 km2). Each of these species have at least two large, intact habitat areas (> 10 000 km2) in a given ecoregion. Timely integration of recovery efforts for large mammals strengthens area-based targets being considered under the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Technical Report
Full-text available
Landscape-scale conservation is the combined contribution of multiple actions, on multiple sites, and by multiple stakeholders, to the resilience of ecological networks. This results in a complex matrix of interventions and policies in space and time. Monitoring the outcomes of landscape-scale conservation therefore presents significant challenges to the individuals and organisations involved in its delivery. Monitoring of site-scale outcomes is well-established and best practice available and adopted. Landscape-scale monitoring is in its infancy by comparison. The absence of common standards and approaches reflects both the infancy of landscape-scale conservation and the scale and complexity of the challenge. The project sought to address these challenges by consulting widely with a community of conservation practitioners to gather expertise and information on their needs from landscape-scale monitoring. It reviewed and analysed existing landscape-scale monitoring approaches, generated consensus on priorities and principles, and developed partnerships to design and test sustainable monitoring approaches. This informed the development and testing of a monitoring framework and practical approaches to landscape-scale monitoring. The project developed a practical framework structured around a series of logical steps to inform the creation of monitoring objectives and programmes. This framework signposts guidance, outputs and case studies developed by the project. Guidance is offered around defining landscape parameters, key attributes of monitoring programmes, landscape monitoring themes, priority themes and questions for landscape-scale monitoring to address, defining and articulating monitoring objectives, and criteria for selecting landscape indicator species.
Article
Full-text available
There are certain animal candidates for which researchers have long speculated as having been managed, or possibly domesticated, by indigenous peoples in the pre-Columbian Caribbean, the primary candidate being some members of a group of caviomorph rodents known as hutia (Capromyinae). This study comprises an isotopic and morphological investigation of the potential management of an extinct species endemic to Hispaniola, the Puerto Rican hutia (Isolobodon portoricensis). For comparisons, isotopic analysis was conducted of bone collagen samples examining carbon (∂¹³Cco) and nitrogen (∂¹⁵N) values of I. portoricensis with two other species of endemic hutia, guinea pig (Cavia porcellus), Antillean slider (Trachemys stejnegeri), rhinoceros iguana (Cyclura cornuta) and edible rat (Brotomys sp.) from four sites in the Dominican Republic: El Flaco, El Carril, El Cabo and La Entrada. This data was compared to human and dog collagen values available from El Flaco to assess similarities between these groups. Osteometric data was recorded for hutia mandibles, allowing for body mass estimations (n = 230). The findings suggest that some Isolobodon portoricensis specimens possessed carbon (δ¹³Cco) values similar to humans and dogs at El Flaco, possibly associated with the consumption of agriculturally produced maize. This research does not indicate whether domestication or management of this species was occurring, at least not in a systematic way. Concurrence with palaeoenvironmental and zooarchaeological data from the region in which El Flaco and El Carril are located indicate that indigenous agricultural practices may have affected populations of hutia, perhaps by attracting them and supporting them within anthropogenic mosaic landscapes. The data also suggests that some degree of either purposeful feeding or scavenging from human agricultural plots was occurring and supports some degree of commensalism between humans and Puerto Rican hutia at these sites.
Article
The Caribbean archipelago is a hotspot of biodiversity characterized by a high rate of extinction. Recent studies have examined these losses, but the causes of the Antillean Late Quaternary vertebrate extinctions , and especially the role of humans, are still unclear. Previous results provide support for climate-related and human-induced extinctions, but often downplaying other complex bio-ecological factors that are difficult to model or to detect from the fossil and archaeological record. Here, we discuss Caribbean vertebrate extinctions and the potential role of humans derived from new and existing fossil and archaeological data from Cuba. Our results indicate that losses of Cuba's native fauna occurred in waves: one during the late Pleistocene and early Holocene, a second during the middle Holocene, and a third one during the last 2 ka, combining the arrival of agroceramists and later of Europeans. The coexistence of now-extinct species with multiple cultural groups in Cuba for over 4 ka implies that Cuban indigenous non-ceramic cultures exerted far fewer extinction pressures to native fauna than the later agroceramists and Europeans that followed. This suggests a determinant value to increased technological sophistication and demographics as plausible effective extinction drivers. Beyond looking at dates of first human arrival alone, future studies should also consider cultural diversity with attention to different bio-ecological factors that influence these biodiversity changes.
Article
The Lesser Antilles is a string of islands stretching from Grenada in the south to Sombrero in the north, which was once home to at least 20 insular populations of native rodents scattered across the different islands. Despite their relative ubiquity on the archipelago, these now extinct rodents remain poorly understood. In Guadeloupe (Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre), Marie-Galante, Barbuda and Antigua, fossil specimens of a large Lesser Antillean native rodent have recently been described as a distinct species, Antillomys rayi Brace et al. 2015. In order to shed new light on the processes leading to the extinction of this species, we use stable carbon and oxygen isotopes to better constrain its ecology, along with a series of radiocarbon dates to narrow its last-occurrence date in Guadeloupe and Marie-Galante. First, we built a reference collection of present-day isotopic data based on carbon and oxygen isotopes from black rats captured in different natural environmental contexts of Guadeloupe. Here, we show A. rayi to have occupied multiple distinct environments ranging from semi-deciduous dry forest to seasonal evergreen or mountain forests. New direct radiocarbon dates obtained on fossil material considerably bring forward the last occurrence of A. rayi in Guadeloupe and Marie-Galante, making it roughly coincident with European contact. However, our new calibrated age intervals place the last occurrence of A. rayi no later than the 16th century AD. Taken together, our results suggest that A. rayi became exceedingly rare, if not extirpated, in Guadeloupe and Marie-Galante shortly after European contact. While the overexploitation of A. rayi by Amerindian populations and the deforestation by European colonists could have impacted A. rayi populations, the consequences (biological competition, disease) of the introduction of black rat most likely explains the early decline of A. rayi and its ultimate extirpation from the islands of Guadeloupe.