Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 53, Issue 1, pp 139–156 | Cite as

Pollen, biomarker and stable isotope evidence of late Quaternary environmental change at Lake McKenzie, southeast Queensland

  • Pia Atahan
  • Henk Heijnis
  • John Dodson
  • Kliti Grice
  • Pierre Le Métayer
  • Kathryn Taffs
  • Sarah Hembrow
  • Martijn Woltering
  • Atun Zawadzki
Original paper


Unravelling links between climate change and vegetation response during the Quaternary is important if the climate–environment interactions of modern systems are to be fully understood. Using a sediment core from Lake McKenzie, Fraser Island, we reconstruct changes in the lake ecosystem and surrounding vegetation over the last ca. 36.9 cal kyr. Evidence is drawn from multiple sources, including pollen, micro-charcoal, biomarker and stable isotope (C and N) analyses, and is used to gain a better understanding of the nature and timing of past ecological changes that have occurred at the site. The glacial period of the record, from ca. 36.9 to 18.3 cal kyr BP, is characterised by an increased abundance of plants of the aquatic and littoral zone, indicating lower lake water levels. High abundance of biomarkers and microfossils of the colonial green alga Botryococcus occurred at this time and included large variation in individual botryococcene δ13C values. A slowing or ceasing of sediment accumulation occurred during the time period from ca. 18.3 to 14.0 cal kyr BP. By around 14.0 cal kyr BP fire activity in the area was reduced, as was abundance of littoral plants and terrestrial herbs, suggesting wetter conditions from that time. The Lake McKenzie pollen record conforms to existing records from Fraser Island by containing evidence of a period of reduced effective precipitation that commenced in the mid-Holocene.


Quaternary Botryococcus Pollen Palaeoecology Fraser Island Southeast Queensland 



Janelle Stevenson is thanked for preparing the pollen residues. Linda Barry and Kerry Wilsher are thanked for assistance associated with sampling. Jack Goralewski and Daniela Fierro are thanked for undertaking 210Pb dating, and Fiona Bertuch and Alan Williams are thanked for assisting with AMS 14C dating. Stephen Clayton and Geoff Chidlow are thanked for technical assistance associated with GCMS and GC-IRMS measurements. Rene Diocares is thanked for assistance with EA-IRMS measurements. We thank Lorenz Schwark for helpful discussions about the research project and Yongsong Huang for generously providing a sample for compound comparison. Pierre Le Métayer and Kliti Grice were supported by an ARC Discovery grant awarded to Kliti Grice. The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) and The Institute for Geoscience Research at Curtin University provided funding for this project.

Supplementary material

10933_2014_9813_MOESM1_ESM.doc (33 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 33 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pia Atahan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Henk Heijnis
    • 1
  • John Dodson
    • 1
  • Kliti Grice
    • 2
  • Pierre Le Métayer
    • 2
  • Kathryn Taffs
    • 3
  • Sarah Hembrow
    • 3
  • Martijn Woltering
    • 2
  • Atun Zawadzki
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Environmental ResearchAustralian Nuclear Science and Technology OrganisationKirrawee DC, SydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Chemistry, WA-Organic and Isotope Geochemistry CentreCurtin UniversityPerthAustralia
  3. 3.Southern Cross Geoscience and School of Environment, Science and EngineeringSouthern Cross UniversityLismoreAustralia

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