Storrs L. Olson
Other affiliations: James Cook University, American Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution ...read more
Bio: Storrs L. Olson is an academic researcher from National Museum of Natural History. The author has contributed to research in topics: Genus & Cave. The author has an hindex of 46, co-authored 399 publications receiving 8748 citations. Previous affiliations of Storrs L. Olson include James Cook University & American Museum of Natural History.
Papers published on a yearly basis
TL;DR: Thousands of fossil bird bones from the Hawaiian Islands collected since 1971 include remains of at least 39 species of land birds that are not known to have survived into the historic period; this more than doubles the number of endemic species ofLand birds previously known from the main islands.
Abstract: Thousands of fossil bird bones from the Hawaiian Islands collected since 1971 include remains of at least 39 species of land birds that are not known to have survived into the historic period; this more than doubles the number of endemic species of land birds previously known from the main islands. Bones were found in deposits of late Quaternary age; most are Holocene and many are contemporaneous with Polynesian culture. The loss of species of birds appears to be due to predation and destruction of lowland habitats by humans before the arrival of Europeans. Because the historically known fauna and flora of the Hawaiian Islands represent only afraction of natural species diversity, biogeographical inferences about natural processes based only on historically known taxa may be misleading or incorrect.
TL;DR: It is confirmed that the prehuman lowlands of dry leeward Kaua’i included plants and animals previously known only in wetter and cooler habitats, and efforts to restore lowland areas in the Hawaiian Islands must take into account the evidence from this study.
Abstract: Coring and excavations in a large sinkhole and cave system formed in an eolianite deposit on the south coast of Kaua‘i in the Hawaiian Islands reveal a fossil site with remarkable preservation and diversity of plant and animal remains. Radiocarbon dating and investigations of the sediments and their fossil contents, including diatoms, invertebrate shells, vertebrate bones, pollen, and plant macrofossils, provide a more complete picture of prehuman ecological conditions in the Hawaiian lowlands than has been previously available. The evidence confirms that a highly diverse prehuman landscape has been completely transformed, with the decline or extirpation of most native species and their replacement with introduced species. The stratigraphy documents many late Holocene extinctions, including previously undescribed species, and suggests that the pattern of extirpation for snails occurred in three temporal stages, corresponding to initial settlement, late prehistoric, and historic impacts. The site also records land-use changes of recent centuries, including evidence for deforestation, overgrazing, and soil erosion during the historic period, and biological invasion during both the Polynesian and historic periods. Human artifacts and midden materials demonstrate a high-density human presence near the site for the last four centuries. Earlier evidence for humans includes a bone of the prehistorically introduced Pacific rat (Rattus exulans) dating to 822 yr BP (calendar year [cal yr] AD 1039–1241). Vegetation at the site before human arrival consisted of a herbaceous component with strand plants and graminoids, and a woody component that included trees and shrubs now mostly restricted to a few higher, wetter, and less disturbed parts of the island. Efforts to restore lowland areas in the Hawaiian Islands must take into account the evidence from this study that the prehuman lowlands of dry leeward Kaua‘i included plants and animals previously known only in wetter and cooler habitats. Many species may be restricted to high elevations today primarily because these remote locations have, by virtue of their difficult topography and climate, resisted most human-induced changes more effectively than the coastal lowlands.
TL;DR: The literature on the late Pleistocene fossil record is synthesized to relate this to the influence of Pleistsocene climatic and sea level changes on vertebrate distributions in the West Indies and finds the application to be of great use in interpreting puzzling patterns of distribution.
Abstract: In the course of our inquiries into the fossil record of late Pleistocene terrestrial vertebrates of the West Indies, we have become impressed by the number of extinctions of species characteristic of arid habitats, savannas, or grasslands. The fossils themselves come mostly from areas now too mesic to support an extensive xerophilic fauna. This observation has led to the supposition that during the last glaciation, the West Indies were drier than they are now, and that those species presently restricted to xeric habitats are probably relicts of this period of aridity. The available data on late Pleistocene climates and sea levels are concordant with the hypothesis that the extinction of a considerable number of vertebrate species was a result of climatic changes since the end of the Pleistocene, 10-12,000 years ago. We find the application of this concept to be of great use in interpreting puzzling patterns of distribution. Because there is a compelling need for a better historical perspective in many ecological models of island biogeography, we have attempted to synthesize the literature on the late Pleistocene fossil record and to relate this to the influence of Pleistocene climatic and sea level changes on vertebrate distributions in the West Indies. In this regard the remarks of Ernest Williams (129) seem especially cogent: "Until proper account is taken of the Pleistocene and its consequences, all discussions of island diversity, extinction, and related phenomena in this latest period of geologic time will lack in realism." Evidence that Pleistocene glacial climates significantly altered
TL;DR: A ‘silver bullet’ strategy on the part of conservation planners, focusing on ‘biodiversity hotspots’ where exceptional concentrations of endemic species are undergoing exceptional loss of habitat, is proposed.
Abstract: Conservationists are far from able to assist all species under threat, if only for lack of funding. This places a premium on priorities: how can we support the most species at the least cost? One way is to identify 'biodiversity hotspots' where exceptional concentrations of endemic species are undergoing exceptional loss of habitat. As many as 44% of all species of vascular plants and 35% of all species in four vertebrate groups are confined to 25 hotspots comprising only 1.4% of the land surface of the Earth. This opens the way for a 'silver bullet' strategy on the part of conservation planners, focusing on these hotspots in proportion to their share of the world's species at risk.
TL;DR: Preface to the Princeton Landmarks in Biology Edition vii Preface xi Symbols used xiii 1.
Abstract: Preface to the Princeton Landmarks in Biology Edition vii Preface xi Symbols Used xiii 1. The Importance of Islands 3 2. Area and Number of Speicies 8 3. Further Explanations of the Area-Diversity Pattern 19 4. The Strategy of Colonization 68 5. Invasibility and the Variable Niche 94 6. Stepping Stones and Biotic Exchange 123 7. Evolutionary Changes Following Colonization 145 8. Prospect 181 Glossary 185 References 193 Index 201
TL;DR: The small-population paradigm has not yet contributed significantly to conserving endangered species in the wild because it treats an erect (smallness) as if it were a cause and hence is of scant theoretical interest.
Abstract: Conservation biology has two threads: the small-population paradigm which deals with the erect of smallness on the persistence of a population, and the declining-population paradigm which deals with the cause of smallness and its cure. The processes relevant to the small-population paradigm are amenable to theoretical examination because they generalize across species and are subsumed by an inclusive higher category: stochasticity. In contrast, the processes relevant to the declining-population paradigm are essentially humdrum, being not one but many. So far they have defied tight generalization and hence are of scant theoretical interest. The small-population paradigm has not yet contributed significantly to conserving endangered species in the wild because it treats an erect (smallness) as if it were a cause
TL;DR: There are three major causes of global environmental change: increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, alterations in the biogeochemistry of the global nitrogen cycle, and ongoing land use/land cover change as mentioned in this paper.
Abstract: While ecologists involved in management or policy often are advised to learn to deal with uncertainty, there are a number of components of global environmental change of which we are certain–certain that they are going on, and certain that they are human—caused. Some of these are largely ecological changes, and all have important ecological consequences. Three of the well—documented global changes are: increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; alterations in the biogeochemistry of the global nitrogen cycle; and ongoing land use/land cover change. Human activity–now primarily fossil fuel combustion– has increased carbon dioxide concentrations from °280 to 355 mL/L since 1800; the increase is unique, at least in the past 160 000 yr, and several lines of evidence demonstrate unequivocally that it is human—caused. This increase is likely to have climatic consequences–and certainly it has direct effects on biota in all Earth's terrestrial ecosystems. The global nitrogen cycle has been altered by human activity to such an extent that more nitrogen is fixed annually by humanity (primarily for nitrogen fertilizer, also by legume crops and as a by product of fossil fuel combustion) than by all natural pathways combined. This added nitrogen alters the chemistry of the atmosphere and of aquatic ecosystems, contributes to eutrophiction of the biosphere, and has substantial regional effects on biological diversity in the most affected areas. Finally, human land use/land cover change has transformed one—their to one—half of Earth's ice—free surface. This in and of itself probably represents the most important component of global change now and will for some decades to come; it has profound effects on biological diversity on land and on ecosystems downwind and downstream of affected areas. Overall, any clear dichotomy between pristine ecosystems and human—altered areas that may have existed in the past has vanished, and ecological research should account for this reality. These three and other equally certain components of global environmental change are the primary causes of anticipated changes in climate, and of ongoing losses of biological diversity. They are caused in turn by the extraordinary growth in size and resource use of the human population. On a broad scale, there is little uncertainty about any of these components of change or their causes. However, much of the public believes the causes–even the existence–of global change to be uncertain and contentious topics. By speaking out effectively, we can help to shift the focus of public discussion towards what can and should be done about global environmental change.
17 Mar 1996