Paleoenvironments and Fire Regimes in Prehistoric South West Australia

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The Southwest Botanical Province of Western Australia has one of the most diverse vegetation assemblages in the world. It has been suggested that the relatively high diversity in Southwestern Australia may be because it was subject to less disturbance than Southeastern Australia at the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), when Australia’s climate became colder and more arid. If this is the case, and the vegetation types of the southwest were established in the early Holocene, then the main factors driving vegetative change since the LGM are likely to be rainfall and anthropogenic fire regime. To verify these assumptions, an investigation of the pollen and charcoal record of the southwest is required. This paper details an ongoing palynological study with preliminary results regarding the relationship between Aboriginal people and the environment, in particular their impact on vegetation in the last 6000 years.


Keywords: Palynology, Pollen, Paleoenvironment, Holocene, Environment, Fire Regime
Stream: Anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural Studies, Humanities
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Fiona Dyason

PhD Candidate, School of Social and Cultural Studies
 School of Earth and Geographical Sciences, The University of Western Australia

Perth, Western Australia, Australia

I am a PhD Candidate at the University of Western Australia. My research interest is Australia’s paleoenvironment and the ways people have adapted to cope with fluctuating climatic conditions. My current research focuses on the Holocene environment of Southwestern Australia, using pollen coring and speleothems as well as historical and ethnographic data. Previous research includes analysis of faunal remains from a prehistoric site in Shark Bay (Western Australia), and an investigation of the suitability of dental cementum analysis as an indicator of seasonality when used on Australian arid zone marsupials.

Ref: I08P0318