2 results for Athfield, N.R.B.

  • Late Holocene extinction of the New Zealand owlet-nightjar Aegotheles novaezealandiae

    Holdaway, R.N.; Jones, M.D.; Athfield, N.R.B. (2002)

    Journal article
    The University of Auckland Library

    An open access copy of this article is available from the publishers website. The New Zealand owlet-nightjar (Aegotheles novaezealandiae) was a small (c. 150 g), almost flightless endemic bird that was widely distributed before human settlement. It was extinct before European settlement and has not so far been found definitely in a Polynesian cultural context. A series of accelerator mass spectrometry 14C ages on gelatin from owlet-nightjar bones from non-cultural deposits was analysed using Bayesian statistics. The results indicate that the owlet-nightjar may have begun to decline before Polynesian settlement. Such a decline would be consistent with the effects of predation by a new predator-most probably the Pacific rat Rattus exulans.

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  • Late Holocene extinction of Finsch's duck (Chenonetta finschi), an endemic, possibly flightless, New Zealand duck

    Holdaway, R.N.; Jones, M.D.; Athfield, N.R.B. (2002)

    Journal article
    The University of Auckland Library

    An open access copy of this article is available from the publishers website. Finsch's duck (Chenonetta finschi), an extinct, possibly flightless New Zealand endemic, was widely distributed and apparently abundant immediately before human settlement of New Zealand, but its bones have rarely been identified in archaeological sites. Its extinction has been variously attributed to habitat changes, predation by the introduced Pacific rat (Rattus exulans), and human predation. Discriminating between possible causes of its extinction hinges on determining the relative timing of phases of the extinction process and the arrival of rats and humans. Methodological problems of determining the time of extinction of fossil species are reviewed. Bayesian statistical analysis of a series of accelerator mass spectrometry 14C ages on gelatin from Finsch's duck bones from non-cultural deposits suggests that the species began to decline before widespread Polynesian settlement and that it was much reduced in range and numbers by the time extensive human predation and habitat alteration began. Possible causes of its extinction after Polynesian settlement are discussed.

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