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Stratigraphic and Paleobotanical Evidence for Prehistoric Human-Induced Environmental Disturbance on Mo'orea, French Polynesia

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Title: Stratigraphic and Paleobotanical Evidence for Prehistoric Human-Induced Environmental Disturbance on Mo'orea, French Polynesia
Authors: Lepofsky, Dana
Kirch, Patrick V.
Lertzman, Kenneth P.
Issue Date: Jul 1996
Publisher: University of Hawaii Press
Citation: Lepofsky D, Kirch PV, Lertzman KP. 1996. Stratigraphic and paleobotanical evidence for prehistoric human-induced environmental disturbance on Mo'orea, French Polynesia. Pac Sci 50(3): 253-273.
Abstract: Humans played an important role in modifying the prehistoric
environments of most Pacific Islands. In this paper we reconstruct the role of
Polynesians in transforming the late Holocene landscape of the 'Opunohu Valley,
Mo'orea, Society Islands (French Polynesia). Stratigraphic, sedimentary,
chronometric, and paleobotanical evidence are used to reconstruct a sequence
of geomorphological and vegetation changes during the past 1500 yr. Our results
indicate substantial human inputs to landscape changes in the 'Opunohu
Valley during the late Holocene. Vegetation burning in the upper 'Opunohu
Valley, possibly for agricultural purposes, led to conversion of primary forests
into early successional forests and degraded fernlands. Erosion of slopes in the
upper valley led to massive deposition of sediments onto the valley floor, thus
transforming the valley bottom swamp into a relatively dry alluvial flat. These
results contribute substantially to an appreciation of the role played by the indigenous
Polynesian people in modifying the Society Islands ecosystems and
landscapes.
URI/DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/2899
ISSN: 0030-8870
Appears in Collections:Pacific Science Volume 50, Number 3, 1996



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