[Coral-List] Past human impacts in the Chagos (Rachel Jones)

Rachel Jones Rachel.Jones at zsl.org
Mon Oct 4 11:31:10 EDT 2010



Your message suggests that Stoddart et al (Atoll Research Bulletin No.
149, 1971) shows that human impact in the Chagos was 'rather small
before the eviction of the islands human inhabitants', but a quick look
through that reference comes up with the following quotes:

"Diego Garcia, which is now (1971)  largely devastated from an
ornithological point of view by nearly two centuries of the activities
of man and other introduced animals"

"Guano has been exported from Diego Garcia...indicating the presence of
important seabird colonies in the past...though they are now much
reduced on the inhabited islands"

"rapidly and successfully colonised by the French who with the
assistance of slave labour...soon felled the majority of the native
woodland and replaced it with exceptionally productive coconut
plantations wherever there was room for them"

"the coconut plantations on this atoll (Salomon) always appear to have
been particularly prosperous and the numerous human population in
association with its small size does not appear to have been compatible
with a rich avifauna"

"it is one of the numerous unpublicized tragedies of insular ornithology
that their (the Chagos) natural history was not investigated before
major changes had resulted from human colonisation of the larger

There is to this day a legacy of coconut palms and rats that are still
numerous on previously inhabited islands to the detriment of birds,
turtles and native plants. So past impacts from humans and the species
they brought with them seem, at least for terrestrial habitats and
animals, to have actually been quite significant.




Rachel Jones


Rachel Jones

Deputy Team Leader


ZSL London Zoo

Regents Park




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