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Vegetation of Nauru and the Gilbert Islands: Case Studies of Poverty, Degradation, Disturbance, and Displacement

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Title: Vegetation of Nauru and the Gilbert Islands: Case Studies of Poverty, Degradation, Disturbance, and Displacement
Authors: Thaman, Randolph R.
Issue Date: Apr 1992
Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press
Citation: Thaman RR. 1992. Vegetation of Nauru and the Gilbert Islands: case studies of poverty, degradation, disturbance, and displacement. Pac Sci 46(2): 128-158.
Abstract: The indigenous floras of the raised phosphatic limestone island
of Nauru and the atolls of the Gilbert Islands are among the poorest on earth.
Long settlement, widespread destruction during World War II, monocultural
expansion of coconut palms, and more than 75 yr of open-cast phosphate mining
in the case of Nauru have led to serious vegetation degradation, disturbance,
and displacement. The floras of Nauru and the Gilbert Islands consist of
approximately 487 and 306 species, respectively, of which only 55 and 83 are
possibly indigenous, but none of which are endemic. The balance is composed
of ornamentals, weedy exotics, food plants, and a limited number of other useful
cultigens. Although greatly outnumbered by exotics, indigenous species still
dominate some of the most disturbed habitats, as well as constituting the most
culturally utilitarian and ecologically important species. Because of the unique
adaptability of indigenous Pacific island plants to the harsh conditions of coastal
and small-island environments, and their cultural and ecological utility, it is
argued that the protection and enhancement of the indigenous floras are crucial
to the ecological integrity and cultural survival of small-island Pacific societies.
ISSN: 0030-8870
Appears in Collections:Pacific Science Volume 46, Number 2, 1992

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