Plant macrofossil analysis from lake cores: an example from Polynesia
Hather, JG and Ellison, J, Plant macrofossil analysis from lake cores: an example from Polynesia, Archaeological Sediments and Soils: Analysis, Interpretation and Management, Routledge, AJ Barham, RI Macphail (ed), New York, United States, pp. 191-202. ISBN 9780905853314 (1995) [Research Book Chapter]
The interpretation of preserved plant micro- and macrofossil remains from lake cores in Polynesia, though on occasion problematical, has been able to achieve results that have not only advanced palaeoecological research but have also augmented and sometimes questioned what is known of both local and regional archaeology. From the time of the early work by Selling (1946, 1947, 1948) indicating forest clearance on Hawai'i (Flenley 1994), interpretations of both palynological data and sedimentary sequences from Jake cores have been able to indicate initial human colonisation of islands and subsequent disturbance of island ecosystems. In the many cases where the archaeological evidence of initial colonisation does not survive, palaeoecological indicators of early anthropic disturbance are the only markers of such early events. Many lake cores contain macroscopic plant tissues, and though the identification of such tissues from other, mostly archaeological, waterlogged contexts is both technically advanced and well documented (eg Koeber-Grohne 1967; Krzywinski et al. 1983; Clapham and Scaife 1988; Kirch 1989; Tomlinson 1990) the identification of plant remains from cores is rarely used to augment either palynological or sedimentological data. In this paper we demonstrate one example where the examination of the macroscopic plant tissues from a core taken from Lake Tiraria, Mangaia Island, Polynesia, has been able to corroborate the interpretation based upon the palynological and sedimentological evidence. The results will be discussed both in terms of the local palaeoecological interpretation and in terms of this methodology applied in the wider context.