The Holocene history of mediterranean-type plant communities, Little Desert National Park, Victoria, Australia
Thomas, I., Enright, N.J. and Kenyon, C.E. (2001) The Holocene history of mediterranean-type plant communities, Little Desert National Park, Victoria, Australia. Holocene, 11 (6). pp. 691-697.
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This paper begins to identify the relative roles of climate change, people and fire as factors in the late-Pleistocene and Holocene evolution of one of the most diverse terrestrial ecosystems in southern Australia. Our research illustrates that pollen from mediterranean-type heathlands can be recognized from sediments taken from small basins in semi-arid ecosystems. The use of pollen and carbonized panicle analyses from sediment cores, in conjunction with ecological research on plant-fire relationships, establishes a role for palaeoecological techniques in the interpretation of long-term processes in semi-arid heathlands in Australia. Radiocarbon dates indicate that the treeless structure at our study site in the Little Desert of western Victoria has existed since at least the early Holocene. Pollen evidence indicates an increase in plant diversity, especially in Proteaceae and fire ephemerals, and a decrease in fire-sensitive taxa (e.g., Callitris spp., Allocasuarina muelleriana type) over the last 4000 years. This decline occurs in conjunction with increases in the frequency of carbonized particles.
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