Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
. 2005 Jul 8;309(5732):287-90.
doi: 10.1126/science.1111288.

Ecosystem Collapse in Pleistocene Australia and a Human Role in Megafaunal Extinction

Affiliations
Free article

Ecosystem Collapse in Pleistocene Australia and a Human Role in Megafaunal Extinction

Gifford H Miller et al. Science. .
Free article

Abstract

Most of Australia's largest mammals became extinct 50,000 to 45,000 years ago, shortly after humans colonized the continent. Without exceptional climate change at that time, a human cause is inferred, but a mechanism remains elusive. A 140,000-year record of dietary delta(13)C documents a permanent reduction in food sources available to the Australian emu, beginning about the time of human colonization; a change replicated at three widely separated sites and in the marsupial wombat. We speculate that human firing of landscapes rapidly converted a drought-adapted mosaic of trees, shrubs, and nutritious grasslands to the modern fire-adapted desert scrub. Animals that could adapt survived; those that could not, became extinct.

Comment in

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 29 articles

See all "Cited by" articles

Publication types

MeSH terms

LinkOut - more resources

Feedback