Kythera Island Project


Principal Investigators
Jennifer Moody (Baylor)
Oliver Rackham (Cambridge)

Campanula flower from Kythera
Kytheran Campanula. Photography by J. Moody 2000.

KIP's analysis of Kythera's botany represents the project's most determined effort to expand its perspectives beyond cultural issues and to explore instead the island's position relative to Crete and the Peloponnese in terms of biogeography (the faunal biogeography of the island is another obvious target for future analysis, although it can be noted that the island's location on a bird migration route from Africa to Europe will make this a challenging investigation). The botanical research involves primarily the compilation of a species list for Kythera, accompanied by an analysis of the local ecology of particular species, both intended for comparative purposes.

False colour composite Spot V image of Kythera
False colour composite
satellite image (12/06/98, SPOT V)

A further aim of the botanical fieldwork, however, is to map the island's vegetation communities, for ecological information and to assess the impact of human processes such as land-clearance and abandonment. The latter task combines analysis and re-classification of satellite imagery by James Conolly with ground-truthing in the field of over a hundred sample areas, in order to allow extrapolation of results across the island as a whole. This integrated approach, which appears to be pioneering in an Aegean context, is testimony to the potential of combining high-tech data-sets with empirical expertise, and is made effective in terms of its implementation by the use of lap-top computers in the field. To date, KIP's botanical analysis addresses the island's recent vegetation history, but a greater time-depth may yet be accessible through pollen data from the geoarchaeological coring.

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