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Long-term stability of temperate Australian wet forest-moorland mosaics despite recurrent fires associated with late Holocene climate change

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Haberle, SG 
Bowman, DMJS 


jats:titleAbstract</jats:title>jats:secjats:titleContext</jats:title>jats:pThe primary factors(s) responsible for the maintenance of Alternative biome states (ABS) in world forest biomes remains unclear and debatable, partly due to insufficient long-term ecological data from suitable ecosystem sites. The occurrence of moorland in southern and western Tasmanian wet temperate forest presents a suitable setting to test for ABS and understand the main stabilizing factors of ABS.</jats:p></jats:sec>jats:secjats:titleObjectives</jats:title>jats:pWe use a palaeoecological approach to test for ABS and identify the degree of vegetation change and the effect of climate change and fire occurrence associated with ABS in southern Tasmania.</jats:p></jats:sec>jats:secjats:titleMethods</jats:title>jats:pSediment sequence from sink-hole lake in a forest and nearby pond in southern Tasmania were analysed for pollen and charcoal to reconstruct histories of forest, moorland and fire in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA). Reconstructions were compared to palaeoclimate record.</jats:p></jats:sec>jats:secjats:titleResults</jats:title>jats:pMoorland and forest in southern Tasmania have occupied the same habitat for at least the last 2600 years, and neither past climate change nor fire occurrence affected the stability of the vegetation mosaic. We suspect that localized environmental settings, such as topography and edaphic conditions are the primary stabilizing factors of the forest-moorland mosaics.</jats:p></jats:sec>jats:secjats:titleConclusions</jats:title>jats:pThe observed stable vegetation mosaics in our study is contrary to the dominant ecological paradigm of landscape dynamics currently used to manage the TWWHA, and there is a need to refine the ecological basis of fire management in the area. Similar targeted palaeoecological studies are needed to fully understand the underlying factors responsible for the persistence of treeless vegetation in world forest biomes.</jats:p></jats:sec>


Acknowledgements: We thank the Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania for the permission to collect sediment cores from the Blake Opening. SGH and MA received support from the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (CE170100015) and DMJSB acknowledges funding through ARC Discovery Grant DP20010239.


Tasmania, Temperate forest, Sedgeland, Alternative biome states, Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area

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Landscape Ecology

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (CE170100015)
Australian Research Council Discovery Grant (DP20010239)
Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage and the ARC Discovery Grant (Grant numbers [CE170100015] and [DP20010239]).