, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 71-82
Date: 24 Jul 2007

A diatom-based Holocene record of human impact from a coastal environment: Tuckean Swamp, eastern Australia

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Diatom-based paleolimnological studies are being increasingly used to track anthropogenic change in estuaries. Little is known, however, about the direction and nature of long-term environmental changes in Australian estuaries. In this study, shifts in diatom assemblages preserved in a 210Pb and C14 AMS dated sediment core from Tuckean Swamp were analysed to determine environmental changes that had taken place as a result of changing land-use practices. Prior to European impact, the diatom assemblage remained relatively stable and was dominated by Actinocyclus normanii and Diploneis smithii. An increasing dominance of Cyclotella meneghiniana correlates well with changed land use activities in the catchment area and indicates an increase of freshwater influence in the swamp’s environment. A major shift in species composition began ∼1970, Eunotia flexuosa becoming dominant. The assemblage shifts recorded at this site appear to be consistent with environmental changes triggered by human activities such as vegetation clearance, drainage and the construction of a barrage. This study demonstrates the use of paleolimnoology in an estuarine environment to provide pre-impact data necessary for management of the aquatic environment.