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First records and potential palaeoecological significance of Dianella (Xanthorrhoeaceae), an extinct representative of the native flora of Rapa Nui (Easter Island)

AuthorsCañellas-Boltà, Núria ; Rull, Valentí ; Sáez, Alberto; Prebble, M; Margalef, Olga
KeywordsNative plant
Easter Island
Local extinction
Issue Date2014
CitationVegetation History and Archaeobotany 23: 331- 338 (2014)
AbstractEaster Island, a remote island in the Pacific Ocean, is currently primarily covered by grasslands, but palaeoecological studies have shown the former presence of different vegetation. Much of its original biota has been removed during the last two millennia, most likely by human activities, and little is known about the native flora. Macrofossil and pollen analyses of a sediment core from the Raraku crater lake have revealed the occurrence of a plant that is currently extinct from the island: Dianella cf. intermedia/adenanthera (Xanthorrhoeaceae), which grew and disappeared at the Raraku site long before human arrival. The occurrence of Dianella within the Raraku sedimentary sequence (between 9.4 and 5.4 cal. kyr b.p.) could have been linked to the existence of favorable palaeoenvironmental conditions (peatland rather than the present-day lacustrine environment) during the early to mid Holocene. This finding contributes new knowledge about indigenous plant diversity on Easter Island and reinforces the usefulness of further macrofossil and pollen analyses to identify native species on Easter Island and elsewhere. © 2014 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00334-014-0432-8
Identifiersdoi: 10.1007/s00334-014-0432-8
issn: 0939-6314
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