Science Through Time: Understanding the Archive at Rennix Gap Bog, a Sub-alpine Peatland in Kosciuszko National Park, New South Wales, Australia

Geoffrey Hope, Scott D Mooney, Kathy Allen, Patrick Baker, Ben Keaney, Justine Kemp, Len Martin, Stuart Pearson, Janelle Stevenson, Xianglin Zheng

Abstract


Rennix Gap Bog is a sub-alpine topogenic peatland that contains up to 2 m of organic-rich sediments that have built up over the last approximately 12,000 years. This paper summarises the research and teaching activities that have been undertaken at the site, which has included consideration of the sediment stratigraphy, radiometric dating, palynology, charcoal analyses, dendrochronology and recently, the testate amoebae community composition has been documented. Much of this work is unpublished but has relevance for any future research and provides a long-term context for many contemporary environmental issues, including for issues of relevance to the management of fire in this landscape and vegetation more broadly. In the contemporary environment, the surface of the bog is vegetated with a complex mosaic of Carex fen, sub-alpine Sphagnum shrub bog and Poa costiniana tussock grassland. Pollen analysis suggests that this vegetation has been relatively stable for 10,000 years and prior to that the site was surrounded by sparse vegetation, similar to the alpine herb-grass community of contemporary higher altitude ecosystems. Charcoal analyses suggest that fire activity has varied through time but increased significantly in the historic period. Rennix Gap Bog has not only attracted considerable research but has also been an invaluable, accessible, site for field-based teaching and learning.

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