Lost Land of the Dodo: The Ecological History of Mauritius, Reunion, and Rodrigues

Overview

Uninhabited by humans, the Mascarene Islands of the Indian Ocean were once home to an extraordinary range of birds and reptiles: giant tortoises, parrots, skinks, geckos, burrowing boas, flightless rails and herons, and, most famously, dodos. But the discovery of the three isolated islands in the 1500s, and their colonization in the 1600s, led to dramatic ecological changes. The dodo became extinct on its home island of Mauritius within several decades, and over the next 150 years most native vertebrates suffered...

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Overview

Uninhabited by humans, the Mascarene Islands of the Indian Ocean were once home to an extraordinary range of birds and reptiles: giant tortoises, parrots, skinks, geckos, burrowing boas, flightless rails and herons, and, most famously, dodos. But the discovery of the three isolated islands in the 1500s, and their colonization in the 1600s, led to dramatic ecological changes. The dodo became extinct on its home island of Mauritius within several decades, and over the next 150 years most native vertebrates suffered the same fate. This fascinating book provides the first full ecological history of the Mascarene Islands as well as the specific story of each extinct vertebrate, accompanied by Julian Hume’s superb color illustrations.

 

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Editorial Reviews

Choice

"Impressively researched. . . . Richly illustrated. . . . A lovely yet tragic story that holds many general lessons for conservation biology in an increasingly fragmented world. . . . Highly recommended."—Choice

Science

"A scientific resource that will long be essential to anyone studying evolution and conservation of insular organisms."—Storrs L. Olson, Science

— Storrs L. Olson

Scienceblogs.com

"Anyone interested in biogeography will want this book!"—Scienceblogs.com

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300141863
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 9/22/2008
  • Pages: 480
  • Product dimensions: 7.70 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Anthony Cheke, an expert in the chronology and interactions of introduced animals and plants with the extinction process of native species, led the British Ornithological Union expedition to the Mascarene Islands in 1973 and has returned many times since. He lives in Oxford, England. Julian Hume, renowned for artistic re-creations of extinct species in their natural habitats, has published extensively on the paleontology of the Mascarene Islands. He is a research fellow at the University of Portsmouth and the Natural History Museum in London. He lives in Portsmouth, England.

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Table of Contents

Preface 6

Acknowledgements 8

Introduction 10

1 Geography of the Mascarenes 13

2 First contact 21

3 The pristine islands 32

4 Where did the Dodo come from? 53

5 Early settlement 75

6 United under France 90

7 A century of sugar 116

8 The limits to growth 155

9 A miraculous survival 203

10 Practical conservation on Mauritius and Rodrigues 226

11 Reflections 260

Tailpiece: La Ravine Saint-Gilles 274

Notes on Chapters 1-11 276

Appendix 1 Land vertebrates introduced to the Mascarenes 368

Appendix 2 Native fauna in Mauritius 371

Appendix 3 Native fauna in Reunion 374

Appendix 4 Native fauna in Rodrigues 376

Appendix 5 Introduced fauna in Mauritius 378

Appendix 6 Introduced fauna in Reunion 381

Appendix 7 Introduced fauna in Rodrigues 383

Appendix 8 Faunal observations on the northern islets of Mauritius 384

Appendix 9 Sources for appendices 2-8 388

Notes for Appendices 2-9 390

Appendix 10 Contributions of travellers, collectors and fossils to knowledge of the Mauritius land vertebrate fauna 395

Appendix 11 Contributions of travellers, collectors and fossils to knowledge of the Reunion land verrebrate fauna 396

Appendix 12 Contributions of travellers, collectors and fossils to knowledge of the Rodrigues land vertebrate fauna 397

Appendix 13 Excavations in 2005 and 2006 398

Appendix 14 Species lists for artwork in the colour section 400

Appendix 15 Local names of Mascarene vertebrates 402

Bibliography 405

Index 453

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