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Comparison of organic and palynological proxies for biomass burning and vegetation in a lacustrine sediment record (Lake Allom, Fraser Island, Australia)
Schreuder, L.T.; Donders, T.H.; Mets, A.; Hopmans, E.C.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S; Schouten, S. (2019). Comparison of organic and palynological proxies for biomass burning and vegetation in a lacustrine sediment record (Lake Allom, Fraser Island, Australia). Org. Geochem. 133: 10-19.
In: Organic Geochemistry. Elsevier: Oxford; New York. ISSN 0146-6380; e-ISSN 1873-5290, meer
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Biomass burning; Anhydrosugars Levoglucosan; Vegetation history; Long chain n-alkanes; Late Holocene; Fraser Island; Southeast Queensland; Australia

Auteurs  Top 
  • Schreuder, L.T., meer
  • Donders, T.H.
  • Mets, A., meer
  • Hopmans, E.C., meer
  • Sinninghe Damsté, J.S, meer
  • Schouten, S., meer

    Continental fire and vegetation history have been studied in sedimentary archives using palynological proxies (i.e. charcoal abundance and the pollen assemblage) and organic proxies (i.e. the anhydrosugars levoglucosan and it isomers, and plant-wax n-alkanes), but rarely in concert. Here, we compared palynological and organic proxies to reconstruct fire and vegetation history in a sediment core from Lake Allom on Fraser Island, Australia, covering the last 5.4 kyrs. We found that anhydrosugar and microscopic charcoal accumulation rates had similar trends, while trends in macroscopic charcoal accumulation rates were different. This was attributed to the short distance over which macroscopic charcoal is transported compared to microscopic charcoal and anhydrosugars. Furthermore, differences in fire regime and combusted types of vegetation may also explain the differences in levoglucosan and charcoal accumulation rates in lacustrine sediments. Moreover, we found that the ratios between anhydrosugars seem to be governed by combustion conditions, or by type of burned vegetation. Long chain n-alkane accumulation rates and stable isotope compositions showed similar patterns to the pollen assemblage throughout the last 5.4 kyrs, with both representing the local vegetation history. Collectively, our results showed that in the period between 5.4 and 4 ka, biomass burning was low on Fraser Island, while at 4 ka, fire occurrence started to increase, slightly earlier than changes in vegetation and hydrology. Therefore, we suggest that increased fire activity on Fraser Island around 4 ka might have been caused by human-lit biomass burning, since aboriginals settled on Fraser Island around this time.

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