Dr Marion Hercock’s The Western Australian Explorations of John Septimus Roe 1829-1849 is the most complete work on Western Australia’s first Surveyor General ever put together. And contained within it is a hidden gem.
Ecologist Dr Ian Abbott has prepared each of the Appendixes on Fauna and Ecology written for the Western Australian Exploration series, part of his career output of more than 240 papers.
Dr Abbott’s appendix on fauna* as reported by Roe over his exploration career in Western Australia addresses 36 different animals that can be identified with certainty – birds (21), mammals (7) fishes (3), crustaceans (2), reptiles (2), and molluscs (1), – and a further four mammals, one fish, and one bird that can be identified with less certainty.
But it is in his Discussion that we are presented with the seldom seen side of John Septimus Roe. Abbott presents him as a ‘proto community or landscape ecologist’, and discusses Roe:
• as an astute and perceptive observer;
• as an observer of Aboriginal burning of the landscape;
• as a collector;
• as a patron;
• interpersonal skills and empathy with animals.
The Western Australian Explorations of John Septimus Roe 1829-1849 is the latest volume in the Western Australian Exploration series and is available from the Publisher, Hesperian Press – www.hesprerianpress.com. More information may be found here.
* Abbott, I., Appendix 2, Fauna and ecology. In Hercock, M.H., The Western Australian Explorations of John Septimus Roe 1829-1849, Hesperian Press, Carlisle, 2014, pp631-43.
Dr Ian Abbott is the recently retired Senior Principal Research Scientist in the Science Division of the Western Australian Department of Parks and Wildlife, He is now a Research Associate with DPaWs. An ecologist with wide field experience in western and eastern Australia and the Galápagos; he has degrees from the University of Sydney, Monash University, and the University of Western Australia. Dr Abbott has expertise in biogeography, island, forest and historical ecology, and ecological history, as well as expert knowledge of trees, invertebrates, birds and mammals.