An examination of rockshelter palynology: Carpenter's Gap 1, northwestern Australia

Rowe, Cassandra, O'Connor, Sue, and Balme, Jane (2020) An examination of rockshelter palynology: Carpenter's Gap 1, northwestern Australia. The Holocene, 30 (8). pp. 1142-1154.

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Carpenter's Gap 1 is a large rockshelter located within the Kimberley region of northwestern Australia. The site provides valuable archives of late Quaternary palaeoecological information within an area known for a lack of deposits preserving long-term continuous botanical records. Previous studies of the macrobotanic, phytolith and wood charcoal records from Carpenter's Gap 1 are in general agreement about changes in broad vegetation patterns over time but differ in the time scales used, in the representation of some species, and in the interpretation of changes - particularly on the degree to which the variations in the record represent cultural activities. An examination of palynology (the transport, deposition and preservation of pollen within the rockshelter environment) provides more detail to the vegetation patterns identified in these previous studies. In addition, because the pollen most likely reflects the vegetation of the site's surrounds over time rather than plants introduced into the shelter by people, interpretation can be more confidently linked to environmental change, and by inference climatic conditions. The pollen data reveal pre-glacial mixed wooded vegetation. From the beginning of the Holocene, tree loss occurred in a transition from monsoonal forest to thicket and eucalypt forest to woodland. Vegetation transition around the mid Holocene suggests a shift in climate, becoming drier and more variable towards and into the late Holocene. The role of fire in the establishment of vegetation communities remains under investigation.

Item ID: 63389
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1477-0911
Keywords: fire, Holocene, monsoon, palaeoecology, southern Kimberley, tropical savanna
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Copyright Information: © The Author(s) 2020.
Funders: Kimberley Foundation Australia, Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (SEWPaC)
Projects and Grants: Australian Research Council (ARC) LP100200415, Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage(CCEQB&H) CE170100015
Date Deposited: 03 Jun 2020 07:40
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310306 Palaeoecology @ 80%
43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4301 Archaeology > 430101 Archaeological science @ 20%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960806 Forest and Woodlands Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960304 Climate Variability (excl. Social Impacts) @ 20%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australias Past @ 30%
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