A Late‐glacial–Holocene pollen record was obtained from a 3.96 m sediment core taken from Lake St Clair, central Tasmania. Modern vegetation and pollen analyses formed the basis for interpretation of the vegetation and climate history. Following deglaciation and before ca. 18450 yr BP Podocarpus lawrencei coniferous heath and Astelia–Plantago wet alpine herbfield became established at Lake St Clair. A distinct Poaceae‐Plantago peak occurs between 18450 and 11210 yr BP and a mean annual temperature depression from ca. 6.2°C to 3°C below present is inferred for this period. The marked reduction in Podocarpus and strong increase of Poaceae suggests reduced precipitation levels during the period of widespread deglaciation (ca. 18.5–11 kyr BP). The local Late Pleistocene–Holocene non‐forest to forest biostratigraphical boundary is dated at 11.2 kyr BP. It is characterised by expansion of the subalpine taxa Athrotaxis/Diselma with Nothofagus gunnii, and by the establishment of Nothofagus cunninghamii with Eucalyptus spp. A ‘Phyllocladus bulge’ prior to the expansion of Nothofagus cunninghamii, reported at other Tasmanian sites, is not present at Lake St Clair. Nothofagus cunninghamii cool temperate rainforest peaked at 7800 yr BP, probably under wetter climatic conditions than present. The maximum development of rainforest in the early–middle Holocene may indicate that the temperature was slightly warmer than present, but the evidence is not definitive. The expansion of Eucalyptus spp. and Poaceae after 6000 yr BP may be partly a disclimax effect as a result of Aboriginal burning, but appears also to reflect reduced precipitation. The changes in vegetation and inferred climate can be explained by major changes in synoptic patterns of southern Australia and the adjacent southwest Pacific. Copyright © 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Journal of Quaternary Science – Wiley
Published: Oct 1, 2000
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