Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Australian Tertiary Phytogeography - Palynoflroas - Miocene

Early-Middle Miocene

In inland regions the abundance of Nothofagus pollen declined, though continued to be high in more coastal areas, as well as extreme southern localities. Araucanians, Casuarinaceae, and some other angiosperms are believed to have been abundant locally, in inland regions in particular, and Myrtaceae increased. This appears to have been a time of maximum forest type diversity. See below.

Late Miocene

A drastic change occurred in the pollen record at this time, Nothofagus pollen disappeared completely, as did much of the rainforest flora, and Myrtaceae pollen increased. This was the time when the rainforests lost their dominance of the Australian continent, only pockets remaining, thought to have probably hung on in places such as sheltered gullies. Tall, open eucalyptus wet sclerophyll forests, with the rainforest taxa in the understorey, became widespread, replacing the rainforests. To some, the wet sclerophyllous forests are seen as an intermediary stage between rainforest and dry sclerophyllous forests, or open eucalyptus forests that lack the rainforest taxa understorey. Fire is required for regeneration of wet sclerophyllous forests. In southeastern Australia, tree ferns, Cyathea, commonly occurs in sheltered gullies at the present (Ashton, 1981). In open forests Asteraceae and Poaceae, herbaceous elements, are present in limited numbers in open forests. These features are all seen in the pollen record from the Late Miocene.

Sources & Further reading

H.A. Martin in Hill, Robert S., (ed.), 1994, History of the Australian Vegetation, Cambridge University Press.




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