CANCELLED - Professor Simon Haberle ‘What you never knew about poo!’

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Thursday, 7 October 2021 - 12:30pm to 1:30pm

The fascinating story of tiny fungi that live on dung and what they tell us about giant animals that roamed the earth.

The study of microscopic spores that are produced in abundance by fungi growing on dung (coprophilous fungi) and preserved in sedimentary records has emerged as a new and significant indicator of herbivore population dynamics and the extinction of megafauna during the Late Quaternary. The cause and timing of the extinction of megafauna in Australia is hotly debated with the primary drivers considered to be one of, or a combination of, climate, human impacts and geomagnetic excursions. In this talk I will present the latest evidence derived from sedimentary records from different environments around Australia that show a remarkable decline in dung fungi abundance around 45,000-41,000 years before present. I will explore the reasons for this decline in dung fungi and consider the nature of human impact on the Australian environment during the late Quaternary.


Professor Simon Haberle is a palynologist (pollen expert) and the Director of the ANU School of Culture, History and Language. He applies his expertise in pollen analysis across a wide range of research fields from archaeology to aerobiology and has worked in field sites around the Southern Hemisphere. He is also actively developing e-Research tools and citizen science projects to help engage the public in science. He is currently using his knowledge of coprophilous fungi spores to explore the dynamics of megafauna populations through time.