Pollen and charcoal analyses are presented from the islands of Mua and Badu, western Torres Strait (northern Australia). Sediment core collections from island interior Melaleuca swamps provide a record of hydrological and vegetation change through the period c.2700 BP to present. Seasonally moist-dry open herbaceous habitats are recorded prior to extensive stable boundary swamp and swamp-forest establishment. This island swamp development is important in supporting vegetation differentiated from eucalypt woodland growth. The swamps also constitute an important dry season resource and refugia. Eucalypt-dominated woodland is evident throughout the records, but is increasingly influenced by fire (in structure and composition). This palaeoecological study provides the unique opportunity to explore long term inter-island and island-mainland environmental connection in the Torres Strait. It also facilitates an examination of regional late Holocene human-environment interaction, including discussions of islander colonisation, occupation and identity as taking place within archaeological research.
- Torres Strait