Evidence obtained from archaeological and ancillary studies of paleoenvironment suggests that the prehistoric Polynesians had a far greater impact on the Hawaiian ecosystem than has heretofore been realized. Such impact began with the introduction, by Polynesians, of exotic plants and animals. The cumulative effects of forest clearance and habitat modification through the use of fire led to major changes in lowland ecology. Among the consequences of this transformation of the Hawaiian landscape were the extinction of endemic species, alteration of vegetation communities, and erosion.
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