Welcome on the blog pages of the Dodo Research Programme!

Here you will find all information considering the excavation and research on the dodo. The page comprises five subpages all of them containing specialist information: dodo bones, dodo ecosystem, dodo climate, dodo land and water, dodo evolution. A sixth category is used to communicate between the researchers on logistics etc.

The dodo research programme

The dodo research programme is a Mauritian Dutch international research initiative that was raised after the change discovery of a mass grave of dodos and other extinct animals in 2005. What makes the Mare aux Songes site so special is that the site is extremely rich in bones, plant debris, snails and insects; actually comprising the whole ecosystem of the dodo! It lists among the most richest fossil sites in the world and so far is the richest found on a volcanic island.

Also interesting is that the fossils are very young, only upto 4500 yrs old. This means the dodos and other animals died recently during our present climatic epoch. This allows for analogue comparisons of our fossil derived data with with other presentday island fauna. Our present results suggests in fact that ten-thousands of dodos died during a very short period 4200 yrs ago.

The site offers a unique change to investigate how island species lived and die under natural circumstances prior human interference. A Mauritius only was habited by humans in 1638 we know exactly what happened with the species and ecosystems from the moment humans infered with the island ecosystem. This presents a unique chance to compare the past with the present. Why did dodos and other animals die under natural circumstances 4200 yrs ago? How did they manage to survive climatic extremes that affected Mauritius? Why did they ultimately became extinct after human settlement?

We can learn from the ecosystem of the dodo how resilient island species are and what they can endure prior collapsing. Given our current exponental rates of changes we as humans bring about in ecosystems it is absolutely neccessary to understand and reconstruct how ecosystems responded to past changes. This will help to manage and conserve ecosystems for the future.
In other to investigate all this a novel approach is required. A transdisciplinary approach that actually seeks the disciplines to answer questions. The dodo research programme combines in a unprecedented way varying research disciplines to adress these questions.

It is amazing that the iconic and mysterious dodo through its fossil presence in a natural mass grave, presents the key into our understanding of island ecosystem responses to climatic change and human impact.

Our scientific publications
Discovery of a Dodo Mass grave. JAN 2009
Did climate change kill 10.000s of dodos? JUL 2011
How did Mauritius’ vegetation deal with past climatic extremes? AUG 2011

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