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

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Thursday, 29 September 2022 - 12:30pm to 1:30pm

Simon, from ANU, will tell a 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.


Prof 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.

Lunchtime talks are held at 12.30 pm every Thursday from February to November.  Talks last for 1 hour.  We welcome a gold coin donation. The Friends use donations received at each talk to support Gardens’ programs and development and thank all those who have donated.  Please note: unless otherwise indicated, talks are in the ANBG Theatrette.

Bookings are a good idea in order to reserve a seat at the talks you wish to attend; some talks book out very quickly.  Bookings can be made from the Friday before the talk until Wednesday night before the talk or until seating limits are reached. 

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The Friends of the ANBG thank the speakers who volunteer their time and talents to further the knowledge of all attending events in the Gardens. Some summaries or PowerPoint presentations of Thursday talks are available to Friends at the ANBG library. A donation to the Friends for the use of this material will be gratefully accepted. Please direct queries about the talks to the Thursday Talks Team: email

The talks are in line with COVID-19 guidelines which can change rapidly.