The vegetation history of the last glacial-interglacial cycle in eastern New South Wales, Australia

Journal article

Williams, Nicola, Harle, Katherine, Gale, Stephen and Heijnis, Henk. (2006). The vegetation history of the last glacial-interglacial cycle in eastern New South Wales, Australia. Journal of Quaternary Science. 21(21), pp. 735 - 750.
AuthorsWilliams, Nicola, Harle, Katherine, Gale, Stephen and Heijnis, Henk

We present a reconstruction of the vegetation history of the last glacial–interglacial cycle (ca. 75 k cal. yr BP–present) at Redhead Lagoon, an enclosed lake basin in coastal, eastern New South Wales, Australia. The sequence of vegetation change at the site is broadly comparable with the pattern of climatically induced changes observed in many other pollen records in southeast Australia. Open woodland–herbland and woodland–forest communities correspond with glacial and interglacial periods respectively, with an additional change towards a more open understorey vegetation assemblage over the last 40 000 yr. The driest conditions appear to have occurred during the height of the last glacial (some time between 30 and 20 k cal. yr BP). This is consistent with other records from southeast Australia, and provides support for a poleward shift in the subtropical anticyclone belt and, less certainly, for the thesis that the Southern Hemisphere westerlies intensified during this period. In marked contrast to most sites in southeast Australia, Casuarinaceae dominates the pollen record through the height of the last glacial period and into the Holocene. The postglacial climatic amelioration is accompanied by the general reappearance of tree pollen in the record, by the disappearance of several open and disturbed environment indicator taxa, by increases in organic sediment deposition and pollen taxon diversity, and by higher water balances. While climate appears to have been the major control on patterns of vegetation change at this site throughout most of the last glacial–interglacial cycle, changes in depositional environment and hydrology have also played a role. Significantly, substantial increases in the rate and magnitude of many indicators of environmental disturbance since European settlement suggest that humans are now the most important mechanism for environmental change.

JournalJournal of Quaternary Science
Journal citation21 (21), pp. 735 - 750
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Scopus EID2-s2.0-33750420923
Page range735 - 750
Research GroupSchool of Arts
Publisher's version
File Access Level
Place of publicationUnited Kingdom
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