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Climate change not to blame for late Quaternary megafauna extinctions in Australia


Saltre, F and Rodriguez-Rey, M and Brook, BW and Johnson, CN and Turney, CSM and Alroy, J and Cooper, A and Beeton, N and Bird, MI and Fordham, DA and Gillespie, R and Herrando-Perez, S and Jacobs, Z and Miller, GH and Nogues-Bravo, D and Prideaux, GJ and Roberts, RG and Bradshaw, CJA, Climate change not to blame for late Quaternary megafauna extinctions in Australia, Nature Communications, 7 Article 10511. ISSN 2041-1723 (2016) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1038/ncomms10511


Late Quaternary megafauna extinctions impoverished mammalian diversity worldwide. The causes of these extinctions in Australia are most controversial but essential to resolve, because this continent-wide event presaged similar losses that occurred thousands of years later on other continents. Here we apply a rigorous metadata analysis and new ensemble-hindcasting approach to 659 Australian megafauna fossil ages. When coupled with analysis of several high-resolution climate records, we show that megafaunal extinctions were broadly synchronous among genera and independent of climate aridity and variability in Australia over the last 120,000 years. Our results reject climate change as the primary driver of megafauna extinctions in the world’s most controversial context, and instead estimate that the megafauna disappeared Australia-wide 13,500 years after human arrival, with shorter periods of coexistence in some regions. This is the first comprehensive approach to incorporate uncertainty in fossil ages, extinction timing and climatology, to quantify mechanisms of prehistorical extinctions.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:climate change, megafauna, Australia, extinction
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Palaeoecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Terrestrial biodiversity
UTAS Author:Brook, BW (Professor Barry Brook)
UTAS Author:Johnson, CN (Professor Christopher Johnson)
UTAS Author:Beeton, N (Dr Nicholas Beeton)
ID Code:111823
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:92
Deposited By:Plant Science
Deposited On:2016-10-10
Last Modified:2017-11-01
Downloads:149 View Download Statistics

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