WA: Livelihoods, Fire Regimes, and Novel Ecosystems in Indigenous Australia


Event Details


We are currently experiencing what Elizabeth Kolbert calls the planet’s sixth great extinction. Australia represents the largest contributor to the mammalian component of this catastrophe. This presentation explores extinction processes in the most remote parts of Australia‚Äôs Western Desert with analyses of ecological interactions mediated in Aboriginal livelihoods. I investigate contemporary and historic relationships among invasive species, disturbance regimes, and Aboriginal land use, especially those associated with patterns of anthropogenic fire and their role in facilitating fundamental trophic interactions. These analyses suggest that, especially with increasingly variable climatic conditions, the efficacy of conservation and habitat restoration throughout much of the arid zone will likely depend on land management prescriptions modelled on Indigenous fire regimes.

Presenter: Doug Bird Associate Professor and director of the Center for Human Ecology at Penn State University, with faculty appointments in Penn State’s Anthropology Dept, Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and the Environment, and the Huck Institute’s Ecology Program. He is a principal investigator in the Human Environmental Dynamics Lab at Penn State, part of a growing transdisciplinary initiative to support research on interactions in resource use, social organization, ecosystem function, and sustainability. His interests are especially in questions about livelihoods and Indigenous lands, exploring the dynamics of human hunting practices, their role in ecosystems, and their archaeological implications.

Date: Thursday 25 May 2017, 12-1pm
Location: Fishbowl SS1.93, University of Western Australia