They discovered that the European colonists of the Caribbean archipelago of Guadalupe caused the mass extinction of the reptiles



May 20, 2021 01:20 GMT

The intensive farming practiced by French settlers, along with the introduction of invasive species, resulted in the extinction of between 50% and 70% of the original population of snakes and lizards.

The European colonization of the Antilles during the seventeenth century meant major changes in the global geopolitical and economic configuration of the time, which allowed the great powers to expand their territorial control to exploit the resources in the new lands. However, this process had disastrous consequences for the local ecosystems, causing the massive extinction of the native fauna.

In this context, an international team of scientists undertook the task of investigating the impact of the arrival of European settlers on the islands of Guadeloupe, a French overseas territory in the southern Caribbean, and they discovered this after their arrival between 50% and 70% Of the local lizards and snakes that became extinct as a result of colonization.

During your investigation, Published This Wednesday in Science Advances, academics parsed about it 43,000 Skeletal remains of 16 reptiles from fossil and archaeological groups of six islands that form part of the archipelago, which have been classified into four periods ranging from the late Pleistocene (32,000 years ago) to the present.

Thanks to radiocarbon dating of the remains of bones and the sediments in which they were found, scientists were able to reconstruct the evolutionary history of the studied reptiles. As a result, they were able to determine that mass extinctions of lizards and snakes occurred during the past 500 years old, The period of time that coincides with the arrival of the first French settlers To Guadalupe in 1635.

Depending He explains The authors, the development of intensive agricultural practices caused the destruction and fragmentation of local habitats, as well as soil degradation, which, along with the introduction of invasive species such as cats, ferrets, mice and raccoons, could be the factors that led to the mass extinction of reptiles.

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Likewise, the results obtained showed that the local indigenous people coexisted harmoniously for thousands of years with snakes and lizards before the arrival of Europeans. “This provides us with important information for future management and sustainability initiatives. [ambiental]Nicole Poivin, a co-author of the post, said:

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