The accurate identification of fish 'ear-bones', known as otoliths, is essential to determine the fish prey of marine and terrestrial predators. Fish otoliths are species-specific when combining size, shape and surface features, and can remain undigested for long periods. As a result, they can indicate which fish make up the diet of various predators, including cephalopod, seabird, marine mammal and fish species. Such studies are crucial for understanding marine ecosystems, and trophodynamics in particular. Increasingly, these methods are being used to understand the diet of some terrestrial predators, also extending to that of humans in archaelogical studies.
Why do Australian rainforests occur as islands within the vast tracts of Eucalyptus? Why is fire a critical ecological factor in every Australian landscape? What were the consequences of the use of fire by the Ice Age colonists? In this original and challenging book, David Bowman critically examines all hypotheses that have been advanced to answer these questions. He demonstrates that fire is the most critical factor in controlling the distribution of rainforest throughout Australia. Furthermore, while Aboriginal people used fire to skillfully manage and preserve habitats, he concludes that they did not significantly influence the evolution of Australia's unique flora and fauna. This volume, the first comprehensive overview of the diverse literature on this topic, solves the puzzle of the archipelago of rainforest habitats in Australia. It is essential reading for all ecologists, foresters, conservation biologists, and others interested in the biogeography and ecology of Australian rainforests.
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