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Title: Human impact and ecological changes during prehistoric settlement on the Canary Islands
Authors: de Nascimento, Lea
Nogue, Sandra
Naranjo Cigala, Agustín 
Criado Hernández, Constantino 
McGlone, Matt
Fernandez-Palacios, Enrique
Fernández-Palacios Martínez, José María 
UNESCO Clasification: 5403 Geografía humana
2416 Paleontología
2402 Antropología (física)
550405 Prehistoria
550501 Arqueología
Keywords: Extinction
Introduced species
North Atlantic
Oceanic islands, et al
Issue Date: 2020
Journal: Quaternary Science Reviews 
Abstract: Oceanic islands remained free of humans until relatively recent times. On contact, humans encountered pristine environments with unique ecosystems and species highly vulnerable to novel impacts. In the course of rendering an island habitable, the new settlers transformed it through fire, deforestation, hunting and introduction of pests and weeds. The result, as described for many oceanic islands globally, has been a catastrophe for biodiversity. Here we present the case of the Canary Islands, an Atlantic archipelago renowned for its exceptional biodiversity, and show that these islands have been no exception to the general rule. We review the archaeological, palaeoecological, palaeontological and ecological literature for the archipelago and discuss the ecological consequences - in particular habitat transformation and biodiversity loss - of human settlement. In contrast to previous views that prehistoric humans had only limited impacts on these islands, we show that vegetation change, increased fire, soil erosion, species introductions and extinctions follow the familiar oceanic pattern. Timing of human settlement of the Canary Islands has been controversial, with revised archaeological dates suggesting a relatively late arrival at the beginning of the Common Era, while palaeoecological and palaeontological evidence favours a presence several centuries earlier. While the matter is still not settled, we suggest that settlement sometime between 2400 and 2000 cal years BP is a possibility.
ISSN: 0277-3791
DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2020.106332
Source: Quaternary Science Reviews [ISSN 0277-3791], v. 239, 106332, (Julio 2020)
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