The influence of climatic change, fire and species invasion on a Tasmanian temperate rainforest system over the past 18,000 years

Fletcher Michael-Shawn, Bowman David MJS, Whitlock Cathy, Mariani Michela, Beck Kristen K, Stahle Laura N, Felicitas Hopf, Benson Alexa, Hall Tegan, Heijnis Hendrik, Zawadzki Atun

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    Abstract

    We aim to understand how did cool temperate rainforest respond to changes in climate and fire activity over the past 18 kcal yrs, interrogating the role that flammable plant species (such as Eucalyptus) have in the long-term dynamics of rainforest vegetation. We used high-resolution pollen and charcoal analysis, radiometric dating (lead and carbon), modern pollen-vegetation relationships, detrended correspondence analysis, rarefaction (palynological richness), rate of change and granger causality to understand the patterns and drivers of change in cool temperate rainforest from the sediments of Lake Vera, southwest Tasmania through time. We record clear changes in key rainforest taxa in response to climatic change throughout the record. The spread of rainforest through the lake catchment in the early and mid-Holocene effectively negated disturbance from fire despite a region-wide peak in fire activity. An anomalously dry period in the late-Holocene resulted in a local fire that facilitated the establishment of Eucalyptus within the local catchment. Granger causality tests reveal a significant lead of Eucalyptus over fire activity in the Holocene, indicating that fires were enhanced by this pyrogenic taxon following establishment.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
    Volume260
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2021

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