Continental Island Formation and the Archaeology of Defaunation on Zanzibar, Eastern Africa

Prendergast, Mary E., Rouby, Helene, Punning, Paramita, Marchant, Robert, Crowther, Alison, Kourampas, Nikos, Shipton, Ceri, Walsh, Martin., Lambeck, Kurt and Boivin, Nicole L. (2016) Continental Island Formation and the Archaeology of Defaunation on Zanzibar, Eastern Africa. PLoS ONE, 11 2: e0149565-e0149565. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0149565

Author Prendergast, Mary E.
Rouby, Helene
Punning, Paramita
Marchant, Robert
Crowther, Alison
Kourampas, Nikos
Shipton, Ceri
Walsh, Martin.
Lambeck, Kurt
Boivin, Nicole L.
Title Continental Island Formation and the Archaeology of Defaunation on Zanzibar, Eastern Africa
Journal name PLoS ONE   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1932-6203
Publication date 2016-02-22
Year available 2016
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0149565
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 11
Issue 2
Start page e0149565
End page e0149565
Total pages 23
Place of publication San Francisco, CA United States
Publisher Public Library of Science
Collection year 2017
Language eng
Formatted abstract
With rising sea levels at the end of the Pleistocene, land-bridge or continental islands were formed around the world. Many of these islands have been extensively studied from a biogeographical perspective, particularly in terms of impacts of island creation on terrestrial vertebrates. However, a majority of studies rely on contemporary faunal distributions rather than fossil data. Here, we present archaeological findings from the island of Zanzibar (also known as Unguja) off the eastern African coast, to provide a temporal perspective on island biogeography. The site of Kuumbi Cave, excavated by multiple teams since 2005, has revealed the longest cultural and faunal record for any eastern African island. This record extends to the Late Pleistocene, when Zanzibar was part of the mainland, and attests to the extirpation of large mainland mammals in the millennia after the island became separated. We draw on modeling and sedimentary data to examine the process by which Zanzibar was most recently separated from the mainland, providing the first systematic insights into the nature and chronology of this process. We subsequently investigate the cultural and faunal record from Kuumbi Cave, which provides at least five key temporal windows into human activities and faunal presence: two at the end of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), one during the period of post-LGM rapid sea level rise and island formation, and two in the late Holocene (Middle Iron Age and Late Iron Age). This record demonstrates the presence of large mammals during the period of island formation, and their severe reduction or disappearance in the Kuumbi Cave sequence by the late Holocene. While various limitations, including discontinuity in the sequence, problematize attempts to clearly attribute defaunation to anthropogenic or island biogeographic processes, Kuumbi Cave offers an unprecedented opportunity to examine post-Pleistocene island formation and its long-term consequences for human and animal communities.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: HERDC Pre-Audit
School of Social Science Publications
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Created: Thu, 24 Mar 2016, 14:01:59 EST by Alison Crowther on behalf of School of Social Science