Matt McDowell



I am employed as a postdoctoral researcher in the University of Tasmania’s CABAH node. I will be researching the impacts that Aborigines, megafaunal extinction and Europeans have had on Australia’s biodiversity by studying animal remains from zooarchaeological and palaeontological assemblages from across Australia, but with a focus on the fauna of Tasmania. I also hope to continue studying island faunas to better understand how island area influences the rate and structure of species extirpation.


Before D.E.E.P:

I study the palaeontology and palaeoecology of late Quaternary Australian native vertebrates. I’ve collected and studied fossil assemblages from the across western, central and southern Australia that accumulated between almost 0 to 1 million years ago. I’m really interested in what Australia’s biodiversity was like before human colonisation, how it changed with the arrival of Aborigines, the extinction of Australia’s megafauna and the arrival of Europeans. My PhD focused on how the fauna of Kangaroo Island responded to the effects of climate change and isolation due to rising sea-levels, providing insight into pre-human and pre-European native mammal biogeography and how species might respond to future climate change and isolation.


Liddle, N. R., McDowell, M. C. & Prideaux, G. J. (2017). Insights into the pre-European mammalian fauna of the southern Flinders Ranges, South Australia. Australian Mammalogy. DOI: 10.1071/AM17035

Gray, J. A., McDowell, M. C., Hutchinson, M. N. & Jones, M. E. H. (2017). Geometric morphometrics provides a more-objective approach for interpreting the affinity of fossil lizard jaws. Journal of Herpetology 51(3): 375-382. DOI: 10.1670/16-145

Fusco, D. S., McDowell, M. C. & Prideaux, G. J. (2017). Fossils reveal late Holocene diversity and post-European decline of the terrestrial mammals of the Murray Darling Depression. Wildlife Research 44(1): 60–71. DOI: 10.1071/WR16134

Haouchar, D., Pacioni, C., Haile, J., McDowell, M. C., Baynes, A., Phillips, M. J., Austin, J. A., Pope, L. C. & Bunce, M. (2016). Ancient DNA reveals complexity in the evolutionary history and taxonomy of the endangered Australian brush-tailed bettongs (Bettongia: Marsupialia: Macropodidae: Potoroinae). Biodiversity and Conservation 25(14:): 2907–2927. DOI: 10.1007/s10531-016-1210-y

Fusco, D. S., McDowell, M. C. and Prideaux, G. J. (2016). Late Holocene mammal fauna from southern Australia reveals rapid species declines post-European settlement: implications for conservation biology. The Holocene 26(5): 699–708.  DOI:   10.1177/0959683615618261

Adams, S. J., McDowell, M. C. & Prideaux, G. J. (2016). Understanding accumulation bias in the ecological interpretation of archaeological and paleontological sites on Kangaroo Island, South Australia. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 7: 715–729. DOI: 10.1016/j.jasrep.2015.08.006

Grealy, A. C., McDowell, M. C., Scofield, P., Murray, D. C., Fusco, D. A., Haile, J., Prideaux, G. J. & Bunce, M. (2015). A critical evaluation of how ancient DNA bulk bone metabarcoding complements traditional morphological analysis of fossil assemblages. Quaternary Science Reviews 128:  37–47. DOI:   10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.09.014

McDowell, M. C., Prideaux, G. J., Walshe, K., Bertuch, F. & Jacobsen, G. E. (2015). Re-evaluating the Late Quaternary fossil mammal assemblage of Seton Rockshelter, Kangaroo Island, South Australia, including the evidence for late-surviving megafauna. Journal of Quaternary Science 30(4): 355–364. DOI:  10.1002/jqs.2789

McDowell, M. C., Haoucher, D., Aplin, K. P., Bunce, M., Baynes, A. & Prideaux, G. J. (2015). Morphological and molecular evidence supports specific recognition of the recently extinct Bettongia anhydra (Marsupialia: Macropodidae). Journal of Mammalogy 96(2): 287–296. DOI: 10.1093/jmammal/gyv006

McDowell, M. C. (2014). Holocene vertebrate fossils aid the management and restoration of Australian ecosystems. Ecological Management and Restoration 15(1): 58–63. DOI:  10.1111/emr.12075

Haoucher, D., Haile, J., McDowell, M. C., Murray, D. C., White, N., Allcock, R. J. N., Phillips, M., Prideaux, G. J. & Bunce, M. (2014). Thorough assessment of DNA preservation from fossil bone and sediments excavated from a Quaternary cave deposit on Kangaroo Island, South Australia. Quaternary Science Reviews 84: 56–64. DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2013.11.007

McDowell, M. C., Bestland, E. A. Bertuch, F. Ayliffe, L. K., Hellstrom, J. C., Jacobsen, G. E. & Prideaux, G. J. (2013). Chronology, stratigraphy and palaeoenvironmental interpretation of a Late Pleistocene to mid-Holocene cave accumulation on Kangaroo Island, South Australia. Boreas 42(4): 974–994. DOI: 10.1111/bor.12015

Macken, A. C., McDowell, M. C., Bartholomeusz, D. N. & Reed, E. H. (2013). Chronology and stratigraphy of the Wet Cave vertebrate fossil deposit, Naracoorte, and relationship to paleoclimatic conditions of the Last Glacial Cycle in south-eastern Australia. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences 60(2): 271–281. DOI: 10.1080/08120099.2013.758657

McDowell, M. C., Baynes, A., Medlin, G. C. & Prideaux, G. J. (2012). The impact of European colonization on the late Holocene non-volant mammals of Yorke Peninsula, South Australia. The Holocene 22(12): 1441–1450. DOI:  10.1177/0959683612455542

Start, T., Burbidge, A. A., McDowell, M. C. & McKenzie, N. L. (2012). The status of non-volant mammals along a rainfall gradient in the south-west Kimberley, Western Australia. Australian Mammalogy 34(1): 36–48. DOI: 10.1071/AM10026

Kemper, C. M., Cooper, S. J. B., Medlin, G. C., Adams, M., Stemmer, D., Saint, K. M., McDowell, M. C. & Austin, J. J. (2011). Cryptic grey-bellied dunnart (Sminthopsis griseoventer) discovered in South Australia: genetic, morphological and subfossil analyses show the value of collecting voucher material. Australian Journal of Zoology 59(3): 127–144. DOI: 10.1071/ZO11037

Baynes, A. & McDowell, M. C. (2010). The original mammal fauna of the Pilbara biogeographic region of north-western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement No. 78. 285–298. DOI: 10.18195/issn.0313-122x.78(1).2010.285-298

McDowell, M. C. & Medlin, G. C. (2010). Natural Resource Management implications of the pre-European non-volant mammal fauna of the southern tip of Eyre Peninsula, South Australia. Australian Mammalogy 32(2): 87–93. DOI: 10.1071/AM09020

McDowell, M. C. & Medlin, G. C. (2009). Using the diet of the barn owl (Tyto alba) as an indicator of small vertebrate abundance in the Channel Country, south-western Queensland. Australian Mammalogy 31(2): 75–80. DOI: 10.1071/AM08116

McDowell, M. C. & Medlin, G. C. (2009). The effects of drought on prey selection of the barn owl (Tyto alba) in the Strzelecki Regional Reserve, north-eastern South Australia. Australian Mammalogy 31(1): 47–55. DOI: 10.1071/AM08115

Pate, F. D., McDowell, M. C., Wells, R. T. & Smith A. M. (2006). Additional AMS radiocarbon dates for Wet Cave and the timing of megafaunal extinctions in the Naracoorte region of South Australia. Alcheringa Special Issue 1: 277–279. DOI: 10.1080/03115510609506866

Pate, F. D., McDowell, M. C., Wells, R. T. & Smith A. M. (2002). Last recorded evidence for Megafauna at Wet Cave, Naracoorte, South Australia 45,000 years ago. Australian Archaeology 54: 53–55. DOI: 10.1080/03122417.2002.11682069

Moriarty, K. C., McCulloch, M., Wells, R. T., & McDowell, M. C. (2000). Mid-Pleistocene cave fills, megafaunal remains and climate change at Naracoorte, South Australia: Towards a predictive model using U/Th dating of speleothems. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 159: 113–143. DOI: 10.1016/S0031-0182(00)00036-5