The Late Pleistocene and Holocene of Oceania

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Oceania, herein restricted to a vast area of the Pacific Ocean encompassing the Hawaiian and Solomon archipelagos, New Caledonia, New Zealand and Easter Island, includes several thousand islands. We describe the trends in diversity,
distribution, and extinction for Late Pleistocene–Holocene terrestrial vertebrates (frogs, reptiles, birds and mammals) of this region mostly from late Holocene fossil and archaeological faunas. There is no evidence for any changes in species
composition of Late Pleistocene faunas until human arrival. Terrestrial vertebrates were limited by dispersal ability and, in all groups, diversity attenuates with distance eastwards from Oceania’s western margin. The greatest evolutionary novelties were restricted to the oldest islands of New Zealand, New Caledonia, Viti Levu and Hawaiian Islands. Flightlessness repeatedly and rapidly evolved in many bird families. Except for the Solomon archipelago, human arrival in Oceania was in the latest Holocene and led to catastrophic extinction affecting large members of most groups and most flightless species.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReference Module in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9780124095489
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Avifaunas
  • Eastern Melanesia
  • Extinction
  • Frogs
  • Hawaiian Islands
  • Mammals
  • New Zealand
  • Pleistocene–Holocene
  • Polynesia
  • Reptiles
  • Terrestrial vertebrates
  • Tropical Pacific


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