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Anthropogenic plant translocations in the western Indian Ocean: Archaeobotanical perspectives on the Anthropocene from Madagascar and the Comoros

Author(s): Alison Crowther ; Nicole Boivin ; Leilani Lucas ; Henry Wright ; Chantal Radimilahy

Year: 2016

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Summary

Although Madagascar is probably best known for its unique endemic flora and fauna, humans have also played a key role in shaping biological diversity on the island. Indeed, it is estimated that humans have been responsible for the introduction of some 10% of Madagascar’s flora in the centuries since the island was first colonised. For many of these plants, the precise dates of introduction are unknown; and while many are undoubtedly relatively recent introductions, a number are suggested to have arrived through early Indian Ocean migration and trade from regions as far flung as island Southeast Asia — the genetic and linguistic homeland of the Malagasy people. In this paper, we outline current evidence from Madagascar as well as the nearby Comoros islands for a range of translocated plants, including key food crops such as rice, banana, taro and yam, as well as several lesser-known taxa from Asia that have potentially long histories of human-mediated dispersal to the region. These plant introductions form part of a larger anthropogenic re-shaping of Madagascar's ecology, that also included extensive deforestation and probably megafaunal extinctions, and whose systematic investigation remains in its infancy.


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Anthropogenic plant translocations in the western Indian Ocean: Archaeobotanical perspectives on the Anthropocene from Madagascar and the Comoros. Alison Crowther, Nicole Boivin, Leilani Lucas, Henry Wright, Chantal Radimilahy. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403229)


Keywords

Geographic Keywords
AFRICA


Spatial Coverage

min long: -18.809; min lat: -38.823 ; max long: 53.262; max lat: 38.823 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America