Understanding the response of Tasmanian rainforest to climate change in the absence of human influence
AffiliationSchool of Geography
Document TypeHonours thesis
Access StatusOnly available to University of Melbourne staff and students, login required
© 2019 Sarah Cooley
The predicted increase of climate-driven wildfires poses a threat to the endemic rainforest species of Tasmania. In order to sustainably conserve and manage these threatened ecosystems in the future, it is crucial to understand the natural response of western Tasmanian vegetation to rapid climate change. While previous research at the Lake Selina site in the region has produced a paleoenvironmental reconstruction of the environmental response to climate shifts during a period in which historical indigenous land management practices were in effect, there is a knowledge gap regarding the response of vegetation to rapid climatic warming in the absence of these practices, which describes the situation in western Tasmania today. As such, this thesis seeks to understand the post-glacial response of vegetation to warming Holocene climates in the absence of anthropogenic fire regimes. To do so, a multi-proxy analysis of lake sediments from Darwin Crater in western Tasmania is conducted in order to facilitate comprehensive palaeoenvironmental reconstruction of a post-glacial environment. After establishing the suitability of conducting a comparison between the selected sites, this research goes on to determine the differences in the response of Tasmanian vegetation in the presence or absence of fire-based land management. The findings from this research identified a clear relationship between anthropogenic fire regimes and the response of western Tasmanian vegetation and can thus be used to project the future responses of vegetation in the region in the absence of indigenous land management practices.
KeywordsDarwin Crater; Tasmania; fire; burning; vegetation; palaeoecology; palaeoenvironmental reconstruction; Indigenous; glacial termination
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