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Palynological and sedimentological evidence for a radiocarbon chronology of environmental change and Polynesian deforestation from Lake Taumatawhana, Northland, New Zealand.

M B Elliot, B Striewski, J R Flenley, D G Sutton


We present pollen diagrams and sedimentological analyses from a lake site within an extensive dune system on the Aupouri Peninsula, Northland. Five thousand years ago, a regional Agathis australis -- podocarp-broadleaf forest dominated the vegetation, which manifested an increasing preponderance of conifer species. Climate was cooler and drier than at present. From ca. 3400 BP, warmth-loving species such as A. australis and drought-intolerant species, Dacrydium cupressinum and Ascarina lucida, became common, implying a warm and moist climate. The pollen record also suggests a windier climate. The most significant event in the record, however, occurred after ca. 900 BP (800 cal BP) when anthropogenic deforestation commenced. A dramatic decline in forest taxa followed, accompanied by the establishment of a Pteridium-esculentum-dominated community. Fire almost certainly caused this, evidenced by a dramatic increase of charcoal. Sedimentological evidence for this site indicates a relatively stable environment before humans arrived and an increasingly unstable environment with frequent erosional events after human contact.


forests;fires;grain size;deforestation;pollen analysis;Aupouri Peninsula;Lake Taumatawhana;Northland New Zealand;climate;paleoenvironment;human activity;vegetation;Australasia;New Zealand;North Island;Holocene;miospores;palynomorphs;pollen;sediments;Cenozoic;charcoal;Quaternary;C 14;carbon;dates;isotopes;radioactive isotopes;absolute age

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