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

Research Fellow

Contact details
The University of Western Australia (M257)
35 Stirling Highway
+61 8 6488 2860
Personal homepage
BA S'ton, PhD W.Aust.
Joe completed his PhD at UWA on Aboriginal responses to environmental changes in south-western Australia resulting from the last glacial period.

Since then he has investigated archaeological evidence for Late Pleistocene faunal extinctions, researched past Aboriginal burning and landscape management in south-western Australia, and collaborated with geneticists and Aboriginal stakeholders on ancient and modern DNA analysis.

He’s also advised communities and industry on archaeological heritage, completing more than 180 heritage assessments.

He currently manages research on the Dampier Archipelago as part of an ARC Linkage project, Murujuga: Dynamics of the Dreaming.
Key research
Environmental archaeology; niche construction; Australian Aboriginal archaeology; ethnography and archaeology; taphonomy; faunal remains analysis; macroscopic charcoal analysis (anthracology); ancient DNA in archaeology.
Journal articles
Dortch, J., Malaspinas, A.-S, 2017 ‘Madjedbebe and genomic histories of Aboriginal Australia’. Australian Archaeology (on-line), 84.
Veth, P., Ward, I., Manne, T., Ulm, S., Ditchfield, K., Dortch, J., Hook, F., Petchey, F., Hogg, A., Questiaux, D., Demuro, M., Arnold, L., Spooner, N., Levchenko, V., Skippington, J., Byrne, C., Basgall, M., Zeanah, D., Belton, D., Helmholz, P., Bajkan, S., Bailey, R., Placzek, C. & Kendrick, P. 2017 Early human occupation of a maritime desert, Barrow Island, North-West Australia. Quaternary Science Reviews 168: 19-29.
Lullfitz, A., Dortch, J., Hopper, S. D., Pettersen, C., Reynolds, R. & Guilfoyle, D. 2017 Human Niche Construction: Noongar evidence in pre-colonial Southwestern Australia. Conservation and Society 15: 201-216.
Malaspinas, A.-S., Westaway, M.C., Muller, C., Sousa, Vitor C., Lao, O., Alves, I., Bergström, A., Athanasiadis, G., Cheng, J.Y., Crawford, J.E., Heupink, T.H., Macholdt, E., Peischl, S., Rasmussen, S., Schiffels, S., Subramanian, S., Wright, J.L., Albrechtsen, A., Barbieri, c., Dupanloup, I., Eriksson, A., Margaryan, A., Moltke, I., Pugach, I., Korneliussen, T.S., Levkivskyi, I.P., Moreno-Mayar, J.V., Ni, S., Racimo, F., Sikora, M., Xue, Y., Aghakhanian, F.A., Brucato, N., Brunak, S., Campos, P.F., Clark, W., Ellingvåg, S., Fourmile, G., Gerbault, P., Injie, D., Koki, G., Leavesley, M., Logan, B., Lynch, A., Matisoo-Smith, E.A., McAllister, P.J., Mentzer, A.J., Metspalu, M., Migliano, A.B., Murgha, L., Phipps, M.E., Pomat, W., Reynolds, D., Ricaut, F-X, Siba, P., Thomas, M.G., Wales, T., Wall, C.M, Oppenheimer, S.J., Tyler-Smith, C., Durbin, R., Dortch, J., Manica, A., Schierup, M.H., Foley, R.A., Lahr, M.M., Bowern, C., Wall, J.D., Mailund, T., Stoneking, M., Nielsen, R., Sandhu, M.S., Excoffier, L., Lambert, D.M., and Willerslev, E. 2016 A genomic history of Aboriginal Australia. Nature 538:207-214.
Dortch, J., and Sapienza, J. 2016 Site Watch: recent changes to Aboriginal heritage site registration in Western Australia. Journal of the Australian Association of Consulting Archaeologists 4: 1-12.
Faith, T., Dortch, J., Jones, C., Shulmeister, J., Travouillon, K. 2016 Large mammal species richness and late Quaternary precipitation change in south-western Australia. Journal of Quaternary Science. DOI: 10.1002/jqs.2888
Dortch, J., Cupper, M., Grün, 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.

Book chapter:
Dortch, J., Hook, F., 2017 Archaeology in the Age of Alternative Facts: Archaeological Investigations and Roe 8, In Gaynor, A., Newman, P., Jennings, P. (Eds) Never again: reflections on environmental responsibility after Roe 8. UWA Press, Perth, pp. 107-116
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
Funding received
Australian Research Council:
Partner investigator, 2012-2014, "Ancient DNA from cave sediments: a new horizon in the archaeology of Aboriginal Australia", Discovery Project with Murdoch and Copenhagen Universities.
Research Associate, 2007-2009, "Aboriginal Landscape Transformations", Linkage Project with Department of Environment & Conservation, South-West Catchments Council, South Coast NRM; co-authored application with CIs J. Balme and J. Dodson.
Australian Post-doctoral Fellow, 2003-05, "Taphonomy of megafauna sites". University of Sydney.

For other funding (industry and community grants) see Socrates page.
Industrial relevance
Joe has worked outside academia for much of his career. He provides advice on cultural heritage management and interpretation to commercial, government and community organisations.
English, French
Member, Australian Archaeological Association
Full Member, Australian Association of Consulting Archaeologists
Previous positions
Director, Eureka Archaeological Research & Consulting, UWA
Research Fellow, Archaeology, UWA
2017 - INDG2700 Knowing Country - From the Dreaming to Darwin

2016 - ARCY4101 Archaeological Theory

2014 - ARCY3003 Archaeological Laboratory Methods

2010 - ARCY7486 Honours - Professional Archaeology

PhD students (years) - share of supervision:
C. Byrne (2014-) - 25%
A. Lullfitz (2014-) - 5%
C. Monks (2013-2017) - 75%
D. Murray (Curtin University) (2013-2016) - 10%

Supervised Honours students in Archaeology (except where shown otherwise):
2017: G. Buck (Biological Sciences)
2014: S. Murray (Natural Resource Management)
2013: N. Bush, D. Tassone, K. Hudson, Z. Shepherd.
2011: K. Forde, S. Curry-Bowran.
2009: R. Cameron, J. Huizen, S. Johnston, I. Seah, E. Rusack, K. Lee (U. Sydney)
2008: H. Worrell
2004: B. Ngo (U. Sydney)
Current external positions
Director, Dortch & Cuthbert Pty Ltd
Research Associate, WA Museum
Research Associate, Curtin University
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.

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