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US News The arrival of the European settlers in Guadeloupe decimated the population of reptiles (study)

04:10  20 may  2021
04:10  20 may  2021 Source:   rfi.fr

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Un lézard encore très répandu en Guadeloupe, sur une photographie transmise par le chercheur Corentin Bochaton © Handout a lizard still widespread in Guadeloupe, on a photograph transmitted by the researcher Corentin Bochaton

the arrival of the European settlers in Guadeloupe A Provoked the extinction of 50% to 70% of the serpent and lizard population in the archipelago, according to a study published on Wednesday.

In total, 43,000 fossils of reptiles from six islands were studied for this work, published in the Journal Science Advances.

"What we found is that there was a huge biodiversity in the past, with many species that they were not present until now, and others who have never been previously described, "said AFP the main author of the study, Corentin Bochaton, CNRS and the Max-Planck Institute

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the team of researchers analyzed the remains of 16 groups of animals (taxa ) from 31 sites in Guadeloupe.

They were classified into four periods: the upper pleistocene (from 32,000 to 11,650 years), the Holocene before the arrival of humans (beginner 11,650 years ago), the native stand period, and the Modern period.

By dating the bones and sediments around, scientists have been able to rebuild the history of evolution in this region, and determined that massive extinction had taken place over the past 500 years.

The islands could have been inhabited for the first time by humans as far as it is 5,000 years ago. Christopher Columbus arrived in Guadeloupe in 1493, and French colonization began in 1635, leading to the disappearance of the indigenous populations who lived there.

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According to the fossils studied, the species of reptiles were able to survive climate changes at the end of the last glacial period, when the region became warmer and wetter.

"We did not observe any extinction during the Amerindian period," also explained Corentin Bochaton.

So what led to the disappearance of species like curved tail iguana, or Boa Marie-Galante? According to researchers, leaders include cats, mongooses, raccoons or the rats brought by the settlers.

Small reptiles have apparently better out that the biggest, which could indicate the preferences of predators.

The species living in trees seem to have been less affected - which for Corentin Bochaton is due to the role of agriculture, destroying ground habitats.

According to him, this research shows the importance of the use of fossils to assess the impact of humans on the biodiversity of a region.

In Guadeloupe, the change has been so sudden and violent that naturalists did not have time to document the local fauna.

IA / LA / RLE

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This is interesting!