Extinctions and extirpations in Marshall Islands avifauna since European contact: a review of historic evidence

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Abstract

The Pacific Island avifauna underwent dramatic changes following the arrival of humans on the islands making several species and genera extinct. The decline continued after the arrival of the Europeans. Drawing on historic sources, this paper describes the local extinction of five bird species (Gallirallus wakensis, Poliolimnas cinereus, Ptilinopus porphyracaeus hernsheimi, Ducula oceanica ratakensis and Acrocephalus rehsei) on the atolls of the Marshall Islands since European contact. The local extinction was largely due to the influences of European traders and planters, as well as a European-style copra economy, creating increased capabilities and demand for local hunting of land birds; changes to the ecosystems such as the clearance of swamps and taro patches to make way for coconut plantations, the introduction of predators by European traders and planters; and, on Wake Island, the actions of Japanese feather collectors and changes during World War II.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-267
Number of pages15
JournalMicronesica
Volume38
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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