New prehistoric avifaunas from the Gambier Group, French Polynesia

Stanislas Rigal, Patrick V. Kirch, Trevor H. Worthy

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This paper analyses 647 bird bones identifiable at least to family-level collected from archaeological sites in 2005, 2012 and 2014 by P. Kirch, in the Gambier Group, French Polynesia. The bones derive from Onemea Site (TAR-6) on Taravai Island, Nenega-Iti Rock Shelter (AGA-3) on Agakauitai Island and Kitchen Cave (KAM-1) on Kamaka Island. Eighteen bird species, four newly recorded in this archipelago, are represented among the bones from archaeological layers dating from human arrival in the tenth century to the late pre-European contact period in the early nineteeth century. They reveal that the original avifauna from the Gambier Group minimally included 37 species. These include six now extinct taxa, a species of Pseudobulweria petrel, two columbids (Bountyphaps obsoleta, Ducula tihonireasini n.sp. described herein) and three other land birds that were recorded historically. Minimally, a further six species have been extirpated from the Gambier Group. These archaeological avifaunas are strongly dominated by seabirds (89.4% Minimum Number Individuals) but differences in species representation and dominance suggest the composition of breeding seabird faunas differed between islands. Columbidae were the dominant land birds (58.9% MNI), although no species of this family currently exist on this archipelago
Original languageEnglish
Article number21.3.4A
Pages (from-to)1-35
Number of pages35
JournalPalaeontologica Electronica
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


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