Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 331–338 | Cite as

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

  • Núria Cañellas-BoltàEmail author
  • Valentí Rull
  • Alberto Sáez
  • Matthew Prebble
  • Olga Margalef
Short Communication


Easter 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.


Dianella Easter Island Native plant Holocene Palaeoecology Local extinction 



This research was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Education, through the projects LAVOLTER (CGL2004-00683/BTE), GEOBILA (CGL2007-60932/BTE) and CONSOLIDER GRACCIE (CSD2007-00067) and an undergraduate Grant (BES-2008-002938 to N. Cañellas-Boltà). We are grateful to CONAF (Chile) and the Riroroko family for the facilities provided on Easter Island. We also thank Hilary H. Birks and Teresa Garnatje for their assistance during the work and Juan José Pueyo for his help with SEM photographs.

Supplementary material

334_2014_432_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (2.8 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 2848 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Núria Cañellas-Boltà
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Valentí Rull
    • 2
  • Alberto Sáez
    • 1
  • Matthew Prebble
    • 3
  • Olga Margalef
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Stratigraphy, Paleontology & Marine GeosciencesUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Palynology & Paleoecology LabBotanic Institute of Barcelona (IBB-CSIC-ICUB)BarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Archaeology and Natural History, School of Culture History and Languages, College of Asia and the PacificThe Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  4. 4.Institute of Earth Sciences Jaume Almera (ICTJA-CSIC)BarcelonaSpain

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