The University of Western Australia

UWA Staff Profile

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Joe Dortch

Dr Joe Dortch

Research Fellow
Rock Art Research and Management, Centre for

Contact details
Centre for Rock Art Research and Management
The University of Western Australia (M257)
35 Stirling Highway
+61 8 6488 2860
Personal homepage
BA S'ton, PhD W.Aust.
I trained at Southampton University and UWA, where I completed my PhD on Aboriginal responses to the environmental changes in south-western Australia resulting from the last glacial period. Since then I've directed research projects investigating archaeological evidence for Late Pleistocene faunal extinctions, past Aboriginal burning and landscape management in south-western Australia, and sampling archaeological sites for ancient DNA extraction and analysis. I have assisted in community consultations in genetic research. Throughout this period I have also consulted to communities and industry in archaeological heritage, completing more than 180 heritage assessments, mainly in Western Australia.
Key research
Environmental archaeology; Australian Aboriginal archaeology; ethnography and archaeology; taphonomy; faunal remains analysis; macroscopic charcoal analysis (anthracology); ancient DNA in archaeology.
Dortch, J., Cupper, M., Grun, R., Harpley, B., Lee, K., Field, J. 2016 The timing and cause of megafauna mass deaths at Lancefield Swamp, south-eastern Australia. Quaternary Science Reviews 145:161-182.
Pacioni, C., Hunt, H., Allentoft, M., Vaughan, T., Wayne, A., Baynes, A., Haouchar, D., Dortch, J., and Bunce, M. 2015 Genetic diversity loss in a biodiversity hotspot: ancient DNA quantifies genetic decline and former connectivity in a critically endangered marsupial. Molecular Ecology (on-line).
Monks, C., Sheppard, R., and Dortch, J. 2015 Mid-Holocene exploitation of marine molluscs in the lower Mid-West, Western Australia. Australian Archaeology 80:90-103.
Dortch, J., Monks, C., Webb, W., and Balme J. 2014 Intergenerational archaeology: Exploring niche construction in southwest Australian zooarchaeology. Australian Archaeology 79:187-193.
Dortch, J., Balme, J., and Bowdler, S. 2014 Charlie Dortch: History and archaeology across three continents. Australian Archaeology 79:78-80.
Murray, D., Haile, J., Dortch, J., White, N., Haouchar, D., Bellgard, M.I., Allcock, R.I., Prideaux, G.J., and Bunce, M. 2013 Scrapheap Challenge: A novel bulk-bone metabarcoding method to investigate ancient DNA in faunal assemblages. Scientific Reports 3: 3371.
Dortch, J., Balme, J. and Ogilvie, J. 2012 Aboriginal responses to Late Quaternary environmental change in a Mediterranean-type region: zooarchaeological evidence from south-western Australia. Quaternary International 264:121-134.
Rusack, E., Dortch, J., Hayward, K., Renton, M., Grierson, P., & Boer, M. 2012 The role of habitus in the maintenance of traditional Noongar plant knowledge in southwest Western Australia. Human Ecology 39: 673-682.
Rasmussen, M., and 56 others, including Dortch, J. 2011 An Aboriginal Australian Genome Reveals Separate Human Dispersals into Asia. Science 22 Sep 2011.
Gunn, R.G., Dortch, J., Ogleby, C., & Thorn, A. 2011 The petroglyphs of the Kybra Aboriginal Site, South-Western Western Australia. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 94: 557-581.
Dortch, J. and Wright, R.V.S. 2010 Identifying palaeo-environments and changes in Aboriginal subsistence from dual-patterned faunal assemblages, south-western Australia. Journal of Archaeological Science 37:1053-1064.
Oskam., C., Haile, J., Rigby, P., Alemtoft, M., Olsen, M., Gifford, M., Jacomb, C., Baynes, A. Dortch, J., Parker-Pearson, M., Gilbert, T., Holdaway, R., Willerslev, E., Bunce, M. 2010 Fossil avian eggshell preserves ancient DNA. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 277:1991-2000.
Dortch, J., Dortch, C., and Reynolds, R. 2006 Investigation of Aboriginal fish-traps at Oyster Harbour, south-western Australia. Australian Archaeology 61: 38-43.
Trueman, C.N.G., Field, J.H., Dortch, J., Charles, B., and Wroe, S. 2005 Prolonged co-existence of humans and megafauna in Pleistocene Australia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 102: 8381-8385.
Dortch, J. 2005 Reconstructing Aboriginal impacts on Australian forests. In M. Calver (ed.) Proceedings of the 6th National Conference of the Australian Forest History Society, pp. 527-541. Millpress, Rotterdam.
Dortch, J. 2004 Late Quaternary extinction of Black-footed Rock-wallaby (Petrogale lateralis) in south-western Australia. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 211: 185-204.
Wroe, S., Crowther, M., Dortch, J., and Chong, J. 2004 The size of the largest marsupial and why it matters. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 271: S34-S36.
Field, J., Fullagar, R., Dortch, J., and Dutkiewicz, A. 2003 Sandstone quarries and grinding stone manufacture: survey and excavation at Yambacoona Hill in south-eastern Australia. Australian Archaeology 56: 46-47.
Turney, C.S.M., Bird, M.I., Fifield, L.K., Roberts, R.G., Smith, M., Dortch, C.E., Grun, R., Lawson, E., Ayliffe, L.K., Miller, G.H., Dortch, J. and Cresswell, R.G. 2001 Early human occupation at Devil's Lair, southwestern Australia 50,000 years ago. Quaternary Research 55: 3-13.
Dortch, C.E., and Dortch, J. 1997 Aboriginal occupation in the limestone caves and rock shelters of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Region, Western Australia: research background and archaeological perspective. Western Australian Naturalist 21: 191-206.
Dortch, J. 1996 Late Pleistocene and recent Aboriginal occupation at Tunnel Cave and Witchcliffe Rock Shelter, Naturaliste Region, south-western Australia. Australian Aboriginal Studies 1996 (2): 51-60.
Dortch, C.E., and Dortch, J. 1996 Review of Devil’s Lair artifact classification and radiocarbon chronology. Australian Archaeology 43: 28-31.
Dortch, J. 1994 Pleistocene radiocarbon dates for hearths at Tunnel Cave, south-western Australia. Australian Archaeology 38: 45-46.

Dortch, J. 2004 Palaeo-environmental change and the persistence of human occupation in south-western Australian forests. British Archaeological Reports, International Series S1288. Oxford: Archaeopress.

Articles, not peer-reviewed:
Westaway, M., and Dortch, J. 2015 Who we should recognise as First Australians in the constitution. In Watson, J. (ed) Politics, policy & the chance of change. The Conversation Yearbook 2015. Melbourne University Press, Melbourne.
Dortch, J. 2014 Heritage preserved benefits all. Opinion, The West Australian (newspaper), 8 Dec 2014.
Dortch, C., & Dortch, J. 2012 Archaeological evidence for early human presence in the western reaches of the Greater Swan Region, WA. Fremantle Studies, 7: 51-76.

Edited volume:
Bowdler, S., Balme, J. and Dortch, J. 2014 Putting WA archaeology on the map: The inestimable contribution of Charlie Dortch. Themed section, Australian Archaeology 79:77-215.
Roles, responsibilities and expertise
Research Manager/Murujuga: Dynamics of the Dreaming
Partner investigator on "Ancient DNA from cave sediments: a new horizon in the archaeology of Aboriginal Australia", collaboration with Curtin and Copenhagen Universities
Funding received
2012-14 ARC Discovery Project, with M. Bunce, J. Haile, and T. Gilbert, Ancient DNA from cave sediments: a new horizon in the archaeology of Aboriginal Australia, $152,000.
2007 Co-wrote an Australian Research Council Linkage Project, with Prof J. Balme and Prof J. Dodson as Chief Investigators, Aboriginal Landscape Transformations, ARC contribution $378,000, partner contributions ~$450,000 (UWA, ANSTO, South Coast NRM, South-West Catchments Council, WA Dept of Environment and Conservation, and Gondwanalink).
2003 University of Sydney Sesquicentenary Research and Development Fund, A new radiometric chronology for Lancefield Swamp and the extinction of Australian megafauna, $25,000.
2003 ARC Discovery Project (including Australian Postdoctoral Fellowship), Late Pleistocene faunal change and the formation of fossil deposits: a taphonomic approach, $253,000.
2002 University of Sydney Sesquicentenary Research and Development Fund, A novel geochemical approach to investigating the burial history of fossil bones: Rare Earth Element analyses, $27,500.
Industrial relevance
Since 1992 I have provided cultural heritage management advice on c.180 industry and community projects.
English, French
Member, Australian Archaeological Association
Full Member, Australian Association of Consulting Archaeologists
Previous positions
Director, Eureka Archaeological Research & Consulting.
ARCY3003 Archaeological Laboratory Methods
ARCY7486 Honours - professional archaeology

PhD students (year) % of supervision provided:
Ms C. Monks (2013-) - 75%
Mr A. Cooper (2014-) - 25%
Ms C. Byrne (2014-) - 25%
Ms A. Lullfitz (2014-) - 5%
Ms F. Hook (2015-) - 20%
Mr D. Murray (Curtin University) (2013-) - 10%

Supervised Honours students:
2014: Ms Murray
2013: Ms Bush, Ms Tassone, Ms Hudson, Mr Shepherd.
2011: Mr Forde, Mr Curry-Bowran.
2009: Mr Cameron, Ms Huizen, Mr Johnston, Mr Seah, Ms Rusack (Plant Sciences, UWA), Ms Lee (Archaeology, U. Sydney)
2008: Ms Worrell
2004: Ms Ngo (Archaeology, U. Sydney)
Current external positions
Director, Dortch & Cuthbert Pty Ltd
Research Associate, WA Museum
Research Associate, Curtin University
Secretary, WA Chapter, Australian Association of Consulting Archaeologists Inc.
Current projects
Field and lab project management for ARC Linkage Project: Murujuga: Dynamics of the Dreaming
Archaeological interpretation of ancient DNA from cave sediments.
Study of past Noongar landscape management, through assessment of fire ecology, palaeo-ecology and fine-scale environmental, archaeological, historic and oral records.
Grinding stones and their environmental contexts in the Pilbara, Western Australia.
Review of the Lancefield megafauna site.
210101, 210102
Research profile
Research profile and publications

The University of Western Australia

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Last updated:
Tuesday, 3 November, 2015 2:39 PM