The Arrival of People and the Loss of Species on Kauai

Introduction:

David Burney received a Master's degree from the University of Nairobi for his studies of cheetah, and he earned a Ph.D. from Duke University in paleoecology, the study of past environments. He is now a professor at Fordham University and conducts field research in the Hawaiian Islands, Madagascar and other exotic locales.

His excavations in a large sinkhole and cave system on the south coast of Kauai have yielded up a remarkable diversity of well preserved plant and animal remains that provide a coherent picture of pre-human ecological conditions. The fossil evidence shows that a highly diverse pre-human landscape has been completely transformed with the decline or extirpation of most native species and their replacement with introduced species.

We spoke with Professor Burney about his work on Kauai and its implications for conservation and restoration efforts.

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