Natural and human impacts in a 35 000-year vegetation history in central New Britain, Papua New Guinea

Lentfer, Carol, Pavlides, Christina and Specht, Jim (2010) Natural and human impacts in a 35 000-year vegetation history in central New Britain, Papua New Guinea. Quaternary Science Reviews, 29 27-28: 3750-3767. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2010.08.009

Author Lentfer, Carol
Pavlides, Christina
Specht, Jim
Title Natural and human impacts in a 35 000-year vegetation history in central New Britain, Papua New Guinea
Journal name Quaternary Science Reviews   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0277-3791
Publication date 2010-12
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.quascirev.2010.08.009
Volume 29
Issue 27-28
Start page 3750
End page 3767
Total pages 18
Place of publication Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Pergamon
Collection year 2011
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Phytoliths and micro-charcoal from the Yombon Airstrip archaeological site in central New Britain, Papua
New Guinea, provide the longest vegetation history record yet available for the New Guinea islands. The
record begins about 35 kya with the first evidence for human presence at the site and, with the exception
of the Last Glacial Maximum period, is continuous to the present. Three other sites provide supplementary
evidence, including plant macro-remains, from the early Holocene onwards. The record is
punctuated by a series of volcanic events, which are reflected in the vegetation record by alternating
frequencies of closed forest and regrowth elements. Micro-charcoal is present from the oldest levels and
fluctuates in frequency throughout the sequence, increasing substantially from the terminal Pleistoceneearly
Holocene onwards. This coincides with the first appearance of panicoid grasses and a range of
potential cultivars including bananas and Saccharum. Increased levels of burning coinciding with the
appearance of potential plant cultivars may indicate shifts in plant food production leading to cultivation
from the early Holocene onwards. This compares favourably with previously reported evidence from
Garua Island off the north coast of New Britain. The combination of trends in burning, vegetation
clearance and appearance of potential cultivars on New Britain appears to parallel changes in the Papua
New Guinea highlands at a similar time, and suggests regional similarities in subsistence and vegetation
management practices from before the LGM onwards. Further studies are needed to clarify the timing
and extent of these shifts across the region, and to provide a vegetation picture for the period before
human colonisation of New Britain.
© 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keyword West-New-Britain
Radiocarbon age calibration
Cal kyr BP
Willaumez Peninsula
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2011 Collection
School of Social Science Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 15 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Sun, 16 Jan 2011, 00:01:09 EST