Meeting Summary: The potential for powerful ecosystem modelling approaches applied to issues of human migration have not been fully exploited. This lack of exploration of the ways the natural world impacts decisions for movement may stem from the tendency to view humans as a special case separate from the ‘natural world’. Yet the physical world shapes our decision processes today, and can provide clues to past human migration. Our micro working group brings together archaeologists, remote sensing scientists, and ecologists to begin to explore the peopling of Sahul (Australia) 80,000 years ago, leveraging the availability of “big data” and high-performance computing, to launch an initiative aimed at asking and answering big questions around human migration: by which routes and why did humans enter Australia +/-80,000 years ago? Can we link modern cosmology, such as dreamtime pathways, to migration routes? As sea levels change and climates shift, should we expect to see physical migration routes changing?
Approaches to modelling human migration necessarily requires considering human biology and physiology, genetics, demography, Indigenous oral histories, ethnographic data on movement and land-use, (palaeo)geography, (palaeo)ecology, (palaeo)hydrology, and (palaeo)climatology (including the nowsubmerged continental shelves not considered in previous studies). The intent is to move beyond traditional approaches to consider landscape ecology, landscape connectivity, and ecological theory to understand how people move, and decision theory to model why people move (i.e., foraging, marriage, trade, and other ritual contacts). In the modern context, deeper consideration of these patterns divulges routes by which people are likely to move in response to epidemics, conflict, and climate change.