Land Snail Extinctions at Kalaeloa, O`ahu

T.S. Dye and H.D. Tuggle

International Archaeological Research Institute, Inc. 2081 Young St. Honolulu, Hawaii 96826,
T.S Dye tdye@lava.net
H.D Tuggle hdtuggle@mindspring.com

Summary

In this article we show that the interpretation of Polynesian influence drawn from the stratigraphic record of sub-fossil land snails at Kalaeloa (O'ahu, Hawai'i) is based on a unique stratigraphic sequence at a single sinkhole. The interpretation was then applied to other land snail sequences, despite their lack of evidence for Polynesian influence. We present a reanalysis of the stratigraphic record to conclude that Polynesians had little, if any, effect on land snail populations in sinkholes. We show that directional change in land snail populations was underway before Polynesians colonised the islands. Decreases in the diversity of snail populations, possibly indicative of environmental stress, do occur near the end of the stratigraphic sequence. Based on available dating evidence, however, these changes probably took place in the post-Contact period when the regional environment was radically altered by sugar cane cultivation.

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