Natural Change and Human Impact in Madagascar

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9781560986836: Natural Change and Human Impact in Madagascar
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A miniature continent long isolated from the African mainland, the island of Madagascar evolved a biota that remains one of the most varied of any environment in the world. Following the arrival of humans more than two thousand years ago, mass megafaunal extinctions took their toll, and the island has suffered widespread deforestation and erosion. The combination of continental-scale biodiversity in a small area and anthropogenic changes that fall entirely within recorded history makes Madagascar a compelling natural laboratory for studying human impact on the environment.

Bringing together the work of the most innovative conservation and evolutionary biologists, geologists, and anthropologists currently working in Madagascar, this book provides the first overview in more than twenty years of how natural and human-induced changes have molded the island's modern ecosystems. The contributors explore such questions as how Holocene Epoch climatic shifts affected the distribution of reptile populations, how the arrival of humans led to the extinction of the island's large-bodied lemurs, and how agricultural practices have exacerbated the gully erosion that ravages central Madagascar.

Describing the past dynamism of island environments and analyzing the causes of the disappearance of many of the island's endemic species, the contributors also assess future prospects for preserving Madagascar's remaining natural areas while sustaining a healthy human economy. Natural Change and Human Impact in Madagascar, in carefully distinguishing between natural and human-induced causes of environmental alteration, reflects new methods for understanding biotic and environmental change worldwide.

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About the Author:

Steven M. Goodman is a field biologist for the FIeld Museum of Natural HIstory in Chicago. He coordinates the Ecology Training Program for the World Wildlife Fund in Madagascar and serves on the faculty at the Université d'Antananarivo.

Bruce D. Patterson is the MacArthur Curator of Zoology at the Field Museum and also serves on the faculties of several universities, including the University of Chicago and the Universidad de San Marcos in Lima, Peru.

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Steven M. Goodman (Editor), Bruce D. Patterson (Editor), Benjamin R. Andriamihaja (Contributor), David A. Burney (Contributor), Prithijit S. Chatrath (Contributor), Robert E. Dewar (Contributor), Laurie R. Godfrey (Contributor), Joseph H. Hartman (Contrib
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