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Cyclic floral succession and fire in a Cenozoic wetland/peatland system

Korasidis, Vera A., Wallace, Malcolm W., Wagstaff, Barbara E., Holdgate, Guy R., Tosolini, Anne-Marie P., Jansen, Ben
Palaeogeography, palaeoclimatology, palaeoecology 2016 v.461 pp. 237-252
Dacrycarpus, Dacrydium, Ericaceae, Gleicheniaceae, Nothofagus, Quintinia, Restionaceae, Typhaceae, basins, carbon, charcoal, coal, drying, fires, forests, isotopes, marshes, meadows, palynology, peatlands, plant communities, trees, Australia, New Zealand
The cyclic succession of brown coals in the Latrobe Valley, Gippsland Basin, Australia, records an exceptional floral and charcoal record from the Late Oligocene to Middle Miocene. New palynological, geological and charcoal data are consistent with existing colourimetry, carbon isotope, and organic geochemical and palaeobotanical data, indicating that the repeated lithotype cycles represent relative drying (terrestrialization). Based on this detailed palynological study, the vegetation succession within the Latrobe Valley peatlands is interpreted to have begun with a fire-prone emergent marsh of bulrushes (Typhaceae), which grades landward into a fire-prone meadow marsh of rushes (Restionaceae), heaths (Ericaceae) and coral-ferns (Gleicheniaceae). This marsh environment then developed into a forested bog, with gymnosperms (e.g. the Podocarpaceae Dacrycarpus and Dacrydium) as the dominant trees, until an ombrogenous forest bog developed, predominantly consisting of angiosperms (e.g. Nothofagus, Quintinia).The similarity between vegetation successions in New Zealand and the lightening-upwards cycles from the Latrobe Valley coals suggests that New Zealand's modern vegetation communities represent a floral analogue for the successions preserved in the Latrobe Valley coals. High abundances of micro and macro charcoal recorded in the darker lithotypes, within the lithotype cycles of the M1B and M2A seams, suggest that the Latrobe Valley peatlands were subject to repeated fires during the Late Oligocene to Early Miocene.