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Using satellite imagery to evaluate pre-contact Aboriginal foraging habitats in the Australian Western Desert

October 14, 2021 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Modern satellite imaging offers radical new insights of the challenges and opportunities confronting traditional Aboriginal ecology and land use in Australia’s Western Desert. Here Dr.  Wallace Boone Law shows an approach to model the likely dynamics of historic and pre-contact desert land use using Earth observation data to identify the distribution of suitable foraging habitats.

Our model shows that the highest-ranked foraging habitats do not align with land systems or bioregions that have been used in previous reconstructions of Australian prehistory. We identify impoverished desert areas where unsuitable foraging conditions have likely persisted since early in the last glacial cycle, and in which occupation would always have been rare. These findings lead us to reconsider past patterns of land use and the predicted archaeological signature of earlier desert peoples.

About the speaker

This session will be delivered by Dr. Wallace Boone Law, a geospatial scientist and archaeologist in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Adelaide, where he completed a PhD in spatial science and environmental remote sensing in 2020. His PhD research focused on the application of satellite remote sensing and spatial technologies to investigate the Aboriginal archaeological record of Australia. His research demonstrates how remote sensing can improve our interpretation of ancient Aboriginal land use practices and archaeological site distribution in Australia’s vast desert regions.

Since finishing his degree, Dr. Law has received local and international recognition for his PhD work from the Spatial Sciences and Surveying Institute at the Asia Pacific Spatial Excellence Awards (Postgraduate Student Award). He is passionate about using advanced remote sensing technologies to gain a better understanding our environment and heritage, and he is involved with a diverse range of terrestrial and marine themed spatial science projects. Boone is currently a full-time postdoctoral researcher in the University of Adelaide School of Biological Sciences, where he is using multispectral imagery to map long-term seagrass change and turbidity along the metropolitan Adelaide coastline.


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October 14, 2021
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
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