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Green desert or 'all you can eat'? How diverse and edible was the flora of Vanuatu before human introductions?

Lebot V., Sam C.. 2019. In : Bedford Stuart (ed.), Spriggs Matthew (ed.). Debating Lapita: Distribution, chronology, society and subsistence. Canberra : ANU Press, p. 403-415. (Terra Australis, 52).

The islands of Vanuatu are relatively young geologically, having been formed through tectonic activity. They were colonised very early after their formation by plant species that have come from three main sources (northern Melanesia, New Caledonia and Fiji), carried by winds, ocean currents, birds and bats. When Lapita people arrived, they most likely found edible species there. This paper attempts to understand how settlers could have diversified their diets with plants collected directly from the local flora. Although this flora is considered rather poor compared to the three main source regions, this paper outlines how these colonising settlers could have foraged for local species whose leaves, fruits and tubers could have been eaten readily upon arrival, providing support for their subsistence during initial settlement. Different approaches will be considered to clarify the debate over Early Lapita diets in Remote Oceania.

Mots-clés : régime alimentaire; plante alimentaire; Évolution; biodiversité; flore; vanuatu

Thématique : Taxonomie végétale et phyto-géographie; Conservation de la nature et ressources foncières; Nutrition humaine : considérations générales

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