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Development of widespread mangrove swamps in mid-Holocene times in northern Australia


Mangrove forests in northern Australia typically occur as fringes along tidal estuaries and relatively sheltered coasts. Radiocarbon dating evidence from the South Alligator River, presented here, suggests that extensive mangrove swamps developed between 6,500 and 7,000 yr ago and flourished for about 1,000 yr. Pollen analysis of a stratigraphic core at a mid-plains site links the growth of these forests with the interaction of sea-level change and sedimentation. This was succeeded by the development of flood-plains with tidal river channels, a dramatic ecological change that has implications for all coastal and nearshore systems.

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Woodroffe, C., Thom, B. & Chappell, J. Development of widespread mangrove swamps in mid-Holocene times in northern Australia. Nature 317, 711–713 (1985).

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