Mid-Holocene Development of Mangrove Communities Featuring Rhizophoraceae and Geomorphic Change in the Richmond River Estuary, New South Wales, Australia

Simon Haberle, Takehiko Riko Hashimoto, Neil Saintilan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    This paper describes the hitherto unreported occurrence of mid-Holocene mangrove deposits in the Richmond River estuary, southeastern Australia, thereby providing evidence for changes in the distribution and composition of mangrove communities within a subtropical estuarine system during the Holocene. Stratigraphic, radiocarbon and palynological evidence indicates that widespread development of mangrove communities took place in the upstream reaches of the Richmond River estuary during the period 7000 to 6000 years BP. These communities maintained their habitat through substrate aggradation under the conditions of a moderate sea-level rise, in contrast to other estuaries within the region, which generally experienced the submergence of intertidal substrates. Mangrove species belonging to the family Rhizophoraceae, most likely Bruguiera gymnorrhiza and Rhizophora stylosa, dominated these communities, in strong contrast to contemporary communities, which are dominated by Avicennia marina. Moreover, these mid-Holocene communities were located a considerable distance upstream of the contemporary occurrences of Rhizophoraceae species within the estuary. The changes in the spatial distribution and composition of mangrove communities parallel the large- scale evolution of the estuary driven by sea-level variation. Shallow, buried Pleistocene terraces probably contributed to the regionally unique aggradational response of the mangrove communities and their substrates to a sea-level rise during mid-Holocene times.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)63-76
    JournalGeographical Research
    Volume44
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2006

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