From a thriving past to an uncertain future: Zooarchaeological evidence of two millennia of human impact on a large emblematic lizard (Iguana delicatissima) on the Guadeloupe Islands (French West Indies) - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
Journal Articles Quaternary Science Reviews Year : 2016

From a thriving past to an uncertain future: Zooarchaeological evidence of two millennia of human impact on a large emblematic lizard (Iguana delicatissima) on the Guadeloupe Islands (French West Indies)

Abstract

Among the lizards in the Lesser Antillean Islands, iguanas are undoubtedly the most emblematic, 18 especially the endemic species, Iguana delicatissima. However, although much effort is currently 19 made for the conservation of this species as a result of the present biodiversity crisis, nearly 20 2 nothing is known of the history of this animal on these islands during the last millennia. Here we 21 present the first data relating to the distribution, morphology, and interaction of past iguanas with 22 human populations in the Lesser Antilles. To do so, we review the archaeological Iguana remains 23 collected over the past 15 years on the Guadeloupe Islands. Our results show that the only Iguana 24 species occurring in pre-Columbian archaeological deposits is Iguana delicatissima. Moreover, 25 we demonstrate that this species occurred on all the islands of Guadeloupe during pre-Columbian 26 times and then suddenly became extinct between 1960 and 1990 on most of these islands. We 27 also confirm the modern introduction of I. iguana to the Guadeloupe Islands. In addition, 28 zooarchaeological research demonstrates that pre-Columbian human populations occasionally 29 used iguanas as a source of food, but with no apparent impact on the native population. However, 30 the first data relating to past size variations of I. delicatissima on the Guadeloupe Islands indicate 31 that archaeological iguanas were much larger than the largest remnant modern specimens and that 32 a marked decrease in body length (more than 20%) occurred in these lizards after contact with 33 European populations. This evidence of widespread extinction and morphological change during 34 modern times is another demonstration of the extensive effects of disturbance and selection 35 induced by modern human societies on endemic insular faunas.
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hal-01503157 , version 1 (06-04-2017)

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C. Bochaton, S. Bailon, I. Ineich, M. Breuil, A. Tresset, et al.. From a thriving past to an uncertain future: Zooarchaeological evidence of two millennia of human impact on a large emblematic lizard (Iguana delicatissima) on the Guadeloupe Islands (French West Indies). Quaternary Science Reviews, 2016, 150, pp.172 - 183. ⟨10.1016/j.quascirev.2016.08.017⟩. ⟨hal-01503157⟩
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