New records for prehistoric introduction of Neotropical mammals to the West Indies: Evidence from Carriacou, Lesser Antilles

Giovas, Christina M., LeFebvre, Michelle J. and Fitzpatrick, Scott M. (2012) New records for prehistoric introduction of Neotropical mammals to the West Indies: Evidence from Carriacou, Lesser Antilles. Journal of Biogeography, 39 3: 476-487. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2699.2011.02630.x

Author Giovas, Christina M.
LeFebvre, Michelle J.
Fitzpatrick, Scott M.
Title New records for prehistoric introduction of Neotropical mammals to the West Indies: Evidence from Carriacou, Lesser Antilles
Journal name Journal of Biogeography   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0305-0270
Publication date 2012
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2011.02630.x
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 39
Issue 3
Start page 476
End page 487
Total pages 12
Place of publication Chichester, West Sussex, United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Aim: This paper investigates the prehistoric introduction of five mammalian taxa to Carriacou (Lesser Antilles) and refines the known anthropogenic ranges for these fauna in the pre-Columbian West Indies. The importance of such records for understanding the region's historical biogeography and ecology is considered.

Location: Carriacou Island, Grenada (12°28'N, 61°26'W).

Methods: Zooarchaeological assemblages from Carriacou's earliest documented prehistoric sites, Grand Bay and Sabazan, were analysed, and exotic taxa were identified and quantified. The timing of introductions was established based on multiple radiocarbon assays, including three new accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) direct dates obtained on the bone of exotic taxa. Source species and location(s) are considered and compared with known prehistoric records for the Caribbean to synthesize anthropogenic distributions for the pre-Columbian period. The contexts of the zooarchaeological remains are evaluated to better understand the nature and purpose of introductions.

Results: Zooarchaeological investigation on Carriacou reveals the occurrence of multiple mammal introductions from South American between 700 and ad 1400. This paper presents the first records for guinea pig (Cavia sp.), armadillo (Dasypus sp.), peccary (Tayassu/Pecari sp.), opossum (Didelphis sp.) and agouti (Dasyprocta sp.) from the island. Human-mediated transport of these taxa is indicated by their absence from the record prior to human settlement of Carriacou. Several translocated species are either rare or entirely unknown for the region, and overall West Indian distributions are temporally and spatially discontinuous. Archaeological contexts indicate that mammalian introductions arose from human subsistence needs, but other social factors may have shaped the dispersal of these fauna.

Main conclusions:
The taxonomic combination and richness of Carriacou's introduced fauna are unusual within the region. Importantly, the new records significantly improve the known pre-Columbian geographic range for peccary, guinea pig and armadillo. Integrated with regional records, these data augment our understanding of the Caribbean's historical biogeography, and have the potential to improve our understanding of human mobility and anthropogenic environmental impacts in the West Indies prior to the arrival of Europeans.
Keyword Carriacou
Species introduction
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Social Science Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 15 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Sun, 03 Apr 2016, 22:46:25 EST by Christina Giovas on behalf of School of Social Science