Mammoth
Original Published Date: 
Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Full article issued by The University of Wollongong 

An international research team, including researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (CABAH) at the University of Wollongong (UOW), has determined that the arrival of ancient humans to uninhabited islands doesn’t always lead to widespread extinctions as is often thought.

The research team was led by ARC Future Fellow Associate Professor Julien Louys, from the Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution at Griffith University. By examining archaeological and paleontological records of all islands inhabited by humans over the last 2.6 million years, the team found that humans weren’t always destructive agents, and their arrival often had minimal impacts on biodiversity loss.

'We often have this picture that as soon as people arrive in a new ecosystem, they cause untold amounts of damage, but we found that this was only the case for the most recent human arrivals on islands,' says Associate Professor Louys.

'Based on classic cases of island extinction from the more recent past, we expected that mass extinction should shortly follow island colonisation, however, when we examined the data, there were very few cases where this could be demonstrated.'

'Even in cases where there was a close link between human arrival and island extinctions, these could not be disentangled from records of environmental change brought about by global climatic events and changing sea levels.'

The team also recorded several examples of human ancestor extinctions and instances where humans had to abandon islands.

'The unique ecological conditions that drive island extinctions definitely didn’t spare humans either,' said Australian Laureate Fellow, Professor Sue O’Connor of The Australian National University, the senior researcher on the study. 

 

Photo credit: 

Image: Pixabay.