Fire regime and vegetation change in the transition from Aboriginal to European land management in a Tasmanian eucalypt savanna

Louise M Romanin, Felicitas Hopf, Simon Haberle, David M. J. S. Bowman

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Using pollen and charcoal analysis we examined how vegetation and fire regimes have changed over the last 600 years in the Midlands of Tasmania. Sediment cores from seven lagoons were sampled, with a chronology developed at one site (Diprose Lagoon) using 210Pb and 14C dating. Statistical contrasts of six cores where Pinus served as a marker of European settlement in the early 19th Century and showed significant changes in pollen composition following settlement with (a) influx of ruderal exotic taxa including Plantago lanceolata L., Brassicaceae, Asteraceae (Liguliflorae) and Rumex, (b) increase in pollen of the aquatics Myriophyllum spp. and Cyperaceae, (c) a decline in native herbaceous pollen taxa, including Chenopodiaceae and Asteraceae (Tubuliflorae) and (d) a decline in Allocasuarina and an initial decline and then increase of Poaceae. The presence of Asteraceae (Liguliflorae) in the pre-European period suggests that an important root vegetable Microseris lanceolata (Walp.) Sch.Bip. may have been abundant. Charcoal deposition was low in the pre-European period and significantly increased immediately after European arrival. Collectively, these changes suggest substantial ecological impacts following European settlement including cessation of Aboriginal traditions of fire management, a shift in hydrological conditions from open water lagoons to more ephemeral herb covered lagoons, and increased diversity of alien herbaceous species following pasture establishment.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)427-440
    JournalAustralian Journal of Botany
    Volume64
    Issue number5
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

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