Corridors to Extinction and the Australian Megafauna - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780124077904, 9780124078406

Corridors to Extinction and the Australian Megafauna

1st Edition

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Authors: Steve Webb
Hardcover ISBN: 9780124077904
eBook ISBN: 9780124078406
Imprint: Elsevier
Published Date: 27th February 2013
Page Count: 328
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Extinctions have always occurred and always will, so what is so surprising about the megafauna extinctions? They were caused by humans and were the first of many extinctions that eventually led to the extinction of the Moa, Steller's Sea Cow, the Dodo, Great Auk and countless other species great and small, all attributed to human agency. Therefore, the megafauna were humans’ first great impact on the planet. There is now an increasing realization that the 'blitzkrieg' view of these extinctions may have been wrong. A growing body of evidence and long-term field work is beginning to show that at least Australia's megafauna did not succumb to human agency, not because humans probably did not hunt the odd animal but because the an infinitely more logical reason lies in the climatic conditions of the Quaternary Ice Ages and the affect they had on continental geography, environment, climate and, most importantly, the biogeography of the megafauna. This book presents the evidence of this theory, demonstrating the biogeographic approach to Australia’s megafauna extinction.

Key Features

  • Written clearly to benefit a diverse level of readers, from those with a passing interest to professionals in the field.
  • Examines future climate change and its effects on the planet by looking at examples buried in the past
  • Presents new evidence from extensive field research


Students, researchers, and professionals interested in extinction study and environmental science.

Table of Contents

A Prologue to Extinction

List of Figures & Tables


1. The Big Five or Six or More …


What Has Extinction Ever Done for Us?

Background Extinction

Mass Extinction

The Big Five, Six, etc.

Why Do Animals Go Extinct?

Well, What Did Extinction Do for Us?

2. Extinction Drivers

Main Extinction Drivers

Biogeographic Extinction Drivers

3. After the Dinosaurs

Starting Again

Palaeogene Extinctions

Tertiary Geography

Animals of the Palaeogene World

Eocene–Oligocene Boundary: the End of an ‘Era’

The Neogene Extinctions

Miocene Environmental Switching and Extinction

Pliocene Extinctions

Where to Now?

4. Australia: From Dreamtime to Desert

Australia: A Palaeohistoric Glimpse

An Introduction to Ice Ages and Deserts

5. The Australian Tertiary and the First Marsupial Extinctions


Marsupials Go to Australia

Australia’s Earliest Mammals

Australia’s Faunal Dark Ages: 55–25Ma

They Are Still There!

But What About the Others?

The Origin of the Megafauna

Setting the Stage for the Quaternary

6. Australia and the Quaternary Ice Ages

Drilling for the Foundations

Bygone Bubbles

Ice-Core Data, Glacial Cycle Structure and Climate Switches

A Devil in the Detail: Elements of Glacial–Interglacial Cycling

7. Who and Where: Australian Megafauna and Their Distribution

Australian Megafauna: How Many Species?

The Megafauna

Australian Megafauna: Where Did They Live?

Megafauna Demography: Patches, Corridors and Feeders

Palaeopatches and Corridors in Action

Megafauna Demography and Continental Shelves

8. Megafauna in the Southern Lake Eyre Basin: A Case Study

The SLEB Megafauna

MegaLake Eyre Palaeoaquatic Ecology

Animal Palaeodemography in the SLEB

Trophic Growth, Faunal Colonisation and Collapse

9. Australia’s Megafauna Extinction Drivers

Introducing the Drivers

Australian Enviroclimatic Change During Glacial Cycles

Megafauna Reproduction

Patch Size

Australia’s Glacial Biogeography and Extinction Drivers

Modern Australian Extinctions

10. Megafauna and Humans in Southeast Asia and Australia

A Wish in a Cave

Megafauna Extinctions in Southeast Asia

Because We Cause Extinction Now, We Did So in the Past….

Fire, Humans and Megafauna

Megafauna Extinction: Summarising Considerations

What Happened to Australia’s Megafauna? A Conclusion

The Last Word… for Now

Forty Considerations About Why Australia’s Megafauna Went Extinct

Appendix 1. Australian Tertiary Fauna

Appendix 2. Ice Age Graphs

Appendix 3. Australian Mid-Late Quaternary Megafauna Sites



No. of pages:
© Elsevier 2013
27th February 2013
Hardcover ISBN:
eBook ISBN:

About the Author

Steve Webb

Professor Steve Webb currently serves as Professor of Australian Studies at Bond University, Australia. He has worked with the Federal Government and Indigenous agencies extensively, playing a significant role in the repatriation of Aboriginal skeletal remains from Australian and overseas museums to Aboriginal communities. This work has given him a broad understanding of past and present Aboriginal society and the issues facing Aboriginal people.

Affiliations and Expertise

Professor of Australian Studies, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Bond University, Australia


"Focusing primarily on the Quaternary Ice Ages, the climate extremes brought about by them, and the environmental consequences that Australia underwent during the Quaternary, Webb explores the extinction of large animals in Australia and ponders what lessons can be learned about the extinction of humans in the near or distant future."--Reference and Research Book News, August 2013

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