Bird extinctions in the central Pacific


Journal Article

The first wave of human colonists spread across the Pacific from 4000-1000 yr ago. That they caused many extinctions is well known from fossil finds. The authors estimate how many fossil bird species were missed (roughly half) and so estimate the true extinction rate. The first colonists exterminated roughly half the species on each island group. Some of these extinctions are falsely attributed to the first colonists, because intensive collection often began a half century after the damage initiated by European discovery. Even taken at face value, these recent extinctions are too few. Many species are so critically endangered that we know neither whether they still survive or how to save them. There are fewer recent extinctions and currently endangered species in the islands of the western Pacific, which were the islands occupied first by humans. The species sensitive to human occupation probably died out long ago in these areas. If so, these islands would have lost even more than half of their bird species. -Authors

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Pimm, SL; Moulton, MP; Justice, LJ

Published Date

  • January 1, 1994

Published In

  • Philosophical Transactions Royal Society of London, B

Volume / Issue

  • 344 / 1307

Start / End Page

  • 27 - 33

Citation Source

  • Scopus