Corridors to Extinction and the Australian Megafauna

Corridors to Extinction and the Australian Megafauna

1st Edition - February 27, 2013

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  • Author: Steve Webb
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780124077904
  • eBook ISBN: 9780124078406

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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


Product details

  • No. of pages: 328
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Elsevier 2013
  • Published: February 27, 2013
  • Imprint: Elsevier
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780124077904
  • eBook ISBN: 9780124078406

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

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