Climate-human interaction associated with southeast Australian megafauna extinction patterns

Saltré, Frédérik, Chadoeuf, Joël, Peters, Katharina J., McDowell, Matthew C., Friedrich, Tobias, Timmermann, Axel, Ulm, Sean, and Bradshaw, Corey J.A. (2019) Climate-human interaction associated with southeast Australian megafauna extinction patterns. Nature Communications, 10. 5311.

PDF (Published Version) - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (1MB) | Preview
PDF (Supplementary Information) - Supplemental Material
Download (4MB) | Preview
PDF (Description of Additional Supplementary Files) - Supplemental Material
Download (181kB) | Preview
[img] Microsoft Excel (Supplementary Data 1) - Supplemental Material
Download (180kB)
[img] Microsoft Excel (Supplementary Data 2) - Supplemental Material
Download (77kB)
[img] Microsoft Excel (Source Data) - Supplemental Material
Download (14kB)
View at Publisher Website:


The mechanisms leading to megafauna (>44 kg) extinctions in Late Pleistocene (126,000-12,000 years ago) Australia are highly contested because standard chronological analyses rely on scarce data of varying quality and ignore spatial complexity. Relevant archaeological and palaeontological records are most often also biased by differential preservation resulting in under-represented older events. Chronological analyses have attributed megafaunal extinctions to climate change, humans, or a combination of the two, but rarely consider spatial variation in extinction patterns, initial human appearance trajectories, and palaeoclimate change together. Here we develop a statistical approach to infer spatio-temporal trajectories of megafauna extirpations (local extinctions) and initial human appearance in south-eastern Australia. We identify a combined climate-human effect on regional extirpation patterns suggesting that small, mobile Aboriginal populations potentially needed access to drinkable water to survive arid ecosystems, but were simultaneously constrained by climate-dependent net landscape primary productivity. Thus, the co-drivers of megafauna extirpations were themselves constrained by the spatial distribution of climate-dependent water sources.

Item ID: 61055
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2041-1723
Keywords: archaeology; biodiversity; macroecology; palaeoecology
Copyright Information: © The Author(s) 2019. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC), Institute for Basic Science (IBS)
Projects and Grants: ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (CE170100015), IBS-R028-D1
Research Data:
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2019 00:51
FoR Codes: 45 INDIGENOUS STUDIES > 4501 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, language and history > 450101 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander archaeology @ 30%
43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4301 Archaeology > 430101 Archaeological science @ 70%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australias Past @ 100%
Downloads: Total: 3924
Last 12 Months: 526
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page