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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.
- 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.
A Prologue to Extinction
List of Figures & Tables
1. The Big Five or Six or More …
What Has Extinction Ever Done for Us?
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
Animals of the Palaeogene World
Eocene–Oligocene Boundary: the End of an ‘Era’
The Neogene Extinctions
Miocene Environmental Switching and Extinction
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
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?
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
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:
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.
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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