Islands and Invasives: The Archaeology of Plant and Animal Translocations

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

Globalization has led to the rapid spread of invasive species, but the movement of species through trade networks and human migration is an ancient phenomenon extending back at least 20,000 years. The time depth of ancient translocations of non-domesticated animals often blurs the division between natural and cultural worlds and challenges ideas of “pristine” land or seascapes. Islands, with bounded landscapes and limited resources, are particularly susceptible to dramatic environmental and cultural changes following the introduction or invasion of new taxa. This session explores the mode of dispersal, the impacts, and the methods used to study the translocation and invasion of wild and domestic plants and animals to island environments. The investigation of ancient species translocations by humans can help document the structure and function of both ancient and modern ecosystems, the evolutionary history of domesticated and wild plants and animals, human-environmental relationships in the past and present, and provide data for the conservation of contemporary ecosystems

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-8 of 8)

  • Documents (8)

  • Ancient Caribbean-Mainland Plant and Animal Translocations: Cultural, Biogeographic and Biodiversity Legacy (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Lee Newsom. Lourdes Pérez Iglesias.

    The Caribbean’s pre-peopling flora and fauna were the culminations of both vicariant and long-distance dispersal processes, coupled with evolution in relative isolation spanning more than 20 Mya. Human colonization beginning around 7,000 years ago coincided with extinctions of megalonychid sloths and giant flightless owls-- the archipelago’s only large terrestrial vertebrates-- probably precipitating the first human-induced trophic cascades and initiating the first of a series of...

  • Animal diaspora and culture change (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Naomi Sykes. Holly Miller.

    Animal introductions are frequently equated with the introduction of new dietary ingredients; however, this paper will argue that access to 'meat' is seldom the motivation for the importation of exotic species. By examining a number of case-studies pertaining to Britain it will be proposed that many faunal introductions were both inspired by, and resulted in, social, economic and ideological change. Many species were associated with specific deities and because they were imported from beyond the...

  • The complexities and implications of animal translocations in Pacific prehistory (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Lisa Matisoo-Smith.

    The Pacific region has some of the earliest evidence of animal translocation in the world. The use of transported landscapes – including the introduction of a range of plants and animals - was a major strategy for Pacific Island colonists, particularly in the settlement of Remote Oceania. We have been studying genetic variation in Pacific commensals for nearly 20 years and through these studies have had to constantly rethink our concepts of human and animal interactions generally and, more...

  • Early Human-Environment Dynamics on the Southwest Coast of Madagascar (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kristina Douglass.

    This paper discusses early occupations of the southwest coast of Madagascar and the impact that human subsistence practices may have had on the highly endemic spiny forest biome. A major transformation of Madagascar’s environment post-human arrival is the extinction of a suite of mega fauna species. Ongoing work on the spread of domesticates throughout the western Indian Ocean will certainly improve our understanding of Madagascar’s settlement history, but little is known to-date about the...

  • Invasive or endemic? Management implications of archaeological data in the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Catherine West. Courtney Hofman. Steven Ebbert.

    The Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge maintains more than 2000 islands, where invasive species management and eradication are the focus of conservation and landscape reconstruction efforts. While written records from the Russian and American eras document the introduction of many species, including red fox (Vulpes vulpes), arctic fox (Alopex lagopus), and cattle (Bos taurus), little is known about the introduction and dispersal of the arctic ground squirrel (Spermophilus paryii) in this...

  • Islands and Invasives: The Archaeology of Plant and Animal Translocations (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jean-Denis Vigne.

    This presentation aims to show how the progresses of biological knowledge allows archaeology to take advantage of the paleontological and archaeozoological documentation accumulated during the last 40 years on the islands, to increase its set of evidence –admittedly indirect -- on the early seagoing in the Mediterranean. It presents a brief review of the geographical and paleogeographical frameworks as well as the basics of island biogeography and focuses on the different ways in which mammals...

  • The Rat’s-Eye View: Tracing the Impacts of the Human-Introduced Pacific Rat (Rattus exulans) on Mangareva through Stable Isotope Analysis and Zooarchaeology (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jillian Swift. Patrick Kirch.

    Early Polynesian voyagers transported a suite of plant and animal species to each new island they colonized, forming the foundation of the Polynesian subsistence economy and leading to long-lasting transformations of island landscapes. The Pacific rat (Rattus exulans) was nearly ubiquitous on these journeys, perhaps as a potential food source or simply an inadvertent stowaway. With few natural predators, rat populations multiplied quickly after arrival and spread across island landscapes. Their...

  • Tracking Translocations: Interdisciplinary approaches to animal translocations on the California Channel Islands (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Courtney Hofman. Torben Rick. Jesus Maldonado.

    One of the greatest human impacts on the environment has been the intentional and unintentional introduction of plants and animals around the world. Islands are particularly susceptible to ecological change following introductions, but distinguishing between natural and cultural introductions of wild taxa is often challenging. Here we present our interdisciplinary approach to investigating the origins of California Channel Island terrestrial mammals that can serve as a framework for helping...