, Volume 6, Issue 5, pp 463-489

Early Holocene chronology and environment of Ampasambazimba, A Malagasy subfossil lemur site

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Abstract

According to a traditional but hitherto untested reconstruction of Madagascar’s Holocene environment, continuous forest preceded the monotonous grassland formations that now cover most of the island’s interior. Preliminary analyses of pollen samples collected near14C-dated horizons at Ampasambazimba (central Madagascar) indicate that a mosaic of woodlands, bushlands, and savanna existed close to this important vertebrate subfossil site around 7000–8000 BP. Although most members of Madagascar’s recently extinct “subfossil” fauna are thought to have been forest dwellers, several may have preferred a more open habitat like the one inferred for the region of Ampasambazimba. Dry savanna-woodland burns more readily than does dense forest and may have been more severely affected by the forces which transformed the Malagasy environment during the later Holocene. If so, the loss of savanna-woodland, not dense forest, may have been an important factor in the subfossil extinctions.