‘Pastoralists, pearlers, and pests: A zoological history of Western Australia outside the southwest

When: 05:30pm - 16/05/2018

Location: Stirling House 49 Broadway Nedlands

In this presentation Ian considers how European activities in the larger part of Western Australia outside the southwest have affected the native fauna. His talk is intended to complement a previous paper about the southwest, published in Early Days in 2003. The theme is that the faunal history of this region contains elements of the predictable and the unforeseen. The remit of an ecologist in explaining responses of species to activities associated with European settlement is to identify and carefully appraise all relevant factors, including disease, habitat destruction and degradation, predation by introduced cats and foxes, disruption of Aboriginal burning patterns in the landscape, provision of watering points associated with pastoral activities, and numerous other factors of lesser importance.


The impact of these factors is not, however, the same on all species. Mammals have been most affected. Frogs and reptiles have been least affected, and birds in between. There is also a high level of interaction between these factors. Their impacts on species are seldom additive and are more likely to be synergistic. These complexities require subtle and nuanced interpretation, and in this sense ecological history differs little from other kinds of evidence-based historical studies.


Ian Abbott joined the RWAHS in 2000 and has presented four papers, all published in Early Days between 2003 and 2014. He retired in 2014 as a senior principal research scientist in the WA Public Service. Ian has always had eclectic interests in ecological and social history, and since 1973 has researched and published on a variety of animal species, including jarrah leafminer and other pest forest insect species; introduced mammals (rabbits, cats, foxes, and mongooses); native mammals (especially seals, bilby, brushtail possum, and quoll species); and birds (Tasmania, Kangaroo Island, SW WA forests, and New Zealand). He has been a member of the WA Exploration Diaries Project since 2005 and has so far contributed commentaries on fauna and ecology in appendices to 11 volumes.

Event information: ‘Pastoralists, pearlers, and pests: A zoological history of Western Australia outside the southwest

Cost Donation at the door