Next Article in Journal
Temperature and Precipitation Extremes over the Iberian Peninsula under Climate Change Scenarios: A Review
Next Article in Special Issue
Predicting the Geographic Range of an Invasive Livestock Disease across the Contiguous USA under Current and Future Climate Conditions
Previous Article in Journal
Climate Change Mitigation Potential of Wind Energy
Previous Article in Special Issue
Plant Species Richness in Multiyear Wet and Dry Periods in the Chihuahuan Desert
 
 
Article

Drought Coincided with, but Does Not Explain, Late Holocene Megafauna Extinctions in SW Madagascar

1
Department of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA
2
Department of Geological Sciences & Land Use and Environmental Change Institute, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
3
Department of Anthropology & Institutes of Energy and the Environment, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA
4
Department of Anthropology, Department of Geosciences, and Earth and Environmental Systems Institute, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA
5
Institutes of Energy and the Environment, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA
6
Department of Geosciences & Earth and Environmental Systems Institute, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Terri Schulz and Timothy G. F. Kittel
Climate 2021, 9(9), 138; https://doi.org/10.3390/cli9090138
Received: 1 July 2021 / Revised: 24 August 2021 / Accepted: 26 August 2021 / Published: 1 September 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate System Uncertainty and Biodiversity Conservation)
Climate drying could have transformed ecosystems in southern Madagascar during recent millennia by contributing to the extinction of endemic megafauna. However, the extent of regional aridification during the past 2000 years is poorly known, as are the responses of endemic animals and economically important livestock to drying. We inferred ~1600 years of climate change around Lake Ranobe, SW Madagascar, using oxygen isotope analyses of monospecific freshwater ostracods (Bradleystrandesia cf. fuscata) and elemental analyses of lake core sediment. We inferred past changes in habitat and diet of introduced and extinct endemic megaherbivores using bone collagen stable isotope and 14C datasets (n = 63). Extinct pygmy hippos and multiple giant lemur species disappeared from the vicinity of Ranobe during a dry interval ~1000–700 cal yr BP, but the simultaneous appearance of introduced cattle, high charcoal concentrations, and other evidence of human activity confound inference of drought-driven extirpations. Unlike the endemic megafauna, relatively low collagen stable nitrogen isotope values among cattle suggest they survived dry intervals by exploiting patches of wet habitat. Although megafaunal extirpations coincided with drought in SW Madagascar, coupled data from bone and lake sediments do not support the hypothesis that extinct megafauna populations collapsed solely because of drought. Given that the reliance of livestock on mesic patches will become more important in the face of projected climate drying, we argue that sustainable conservation of spiny forests in SW Madagascar should support local livelihoods by ensuring that zebu have access to mesic habitat. Additionally, the current interactions between pastoralism and riparian habitats should be studied to help conserve the island’s biodiversity. View Full-Text
Keywords: stable isotopes; radiocarbon; charcoal; aridification; deforestation; zebu; pygmy hippos; giant lemurs stable isotopes; radiocarbon; charcoal; aridification; deforestation; zebu; pygmy hippos; giant lemurs
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

MDPI and ACS Style

Hixon, S.W.; Curtis, J.H.; Brenner, M.; Douglass, K.G.; Domic, A.I.; Culleton, B.J.; Ivory, S.J.; Kennett, D.J. Drought Coincided with, but Does Not Explain, Late Holocene Megafauna Extinctions in SW Madagascar. Climate 2021, 9, 138. https://doi.org/10.3390/cli9090138

AMA Style

Hixon SW, Curtis JH, Brenner M, Douglass KG, Domic AI, Culleton BJ, Ivory SJ, Kennett DJ. Drought Coincided with, but Does Not Explain, Late Holocene Megafauna Extinctions in SW Madagascar. Climate. 2021; 9(9):138. https://doi.org/10.3390/cli9090138

Chicago/Turabian Style

Hixon, Sean W., Jason H. Curtis, Mark Brenner, Kristina G. Douglass, Alejandra I. Domic, Brendan J. Culleton, Sarah J. Ivory, and Douglas J. Kennett. 2021. "Drought Coincided with, but Does Not Explain, Late Holocene Megafauna Extinctions in SW Madagascar" Climate 9, no. 9: 138. https://doi.org/10.3390/cli9090138

Find Other Styles
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Access Map by Country/Region

1
Back to TopTop