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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 201-216

Human Niche Construction: Noongar Evidence in Pre-colonial Southwestern Australia

1 Centre of Excellence in Natural Resource Management, University of Western Australia, Albany, Western Australia
2 Centre for Rock Art Research and Management, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia
3 Centre of Excellence in Natural Resource Management and School of Plant Biology, University of Western Australia, Albany, Western Australia
4 Kepa Kurl Enterprises Pty. Ltd., Esperance Museum Village, Esperance, Western Australia

Correspondence Address:
Alison Lullfitz
Centre of Excellence in Natural Resource Management, University of Western Australia, Albany
Western Australia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/cs.cs_16_75

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Through a lens of Human Niche Construction theory, we examine Noongar (an indigenous people of south western Australia) relationships with southwestern Australian flora and suggest influences of these relationships on contemporary botanical patterns in this global biodiversity hotspot. By conducting a review of historical and contemporary literature and drawing upon the contemporary knowledge of Noongar Elders, we examine the merits of five key hypotheses of human niche construction theory in relation to this large cultural group. We find compelling evidence that supports Noongar niche construction, but caution that further research is required to test its likely ecological and evolutionary outcomes. We suggest that further collaborative, multi-disciplinary research that applies Noongar and Western science will lead to a greater understanding of the biological assets of southwestern Australia.

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