Burning and hunting in Australia's western desert

Douglas W. Bird, Rebecca Bliege Bird, Christopher H. Parker

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Even though the central role of fire in the terrestrial biodiversity of Australia is widely acknowledged, we have a limited understanding of the factors that determine the decisions that Aborigines make in maintaining landscape burning regimes (see review in Bowman 1998, pp. 389-390). Discussions of Aboriginal firing practices have generally focused on three interrelated aspects: (1) possible changes in burning regimes indicated by paleoecological records coincident with the arrival of humans in Australia, and subsequent changes in vegetation demography and distribution; (2) the relationship between firing, the primary extinction of Pleistocene mega fauna, and historic declines and extinctions of small-medium-sized marsupials; and (3) the role of Aboriginal burning as a general land management strategy for increasing food supplies and maintaining wildlife habitats. Our aim is to address the fire management issue with data on the immediate and long-term benefits accruing to Martu Aborigines in the Western Desert of Australia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHuman Ecology
Subtitle of host publicationContemporary Research and Practice
PublisherSpringer US
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9781441957009
StatePublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Arts and Humanities


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