A glimpse into Matthew's field work on Cape Barren Island

5th March 2020

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My name is Matthew Adeleye, a current PhD student at the CHL in the area of Archaeology and Natural History. My research focuses on understanding the late Pleistocene and Holocene environmental history of Cape Barren Island, Bass Strait, using pollen, non-pollen palynomorphs and charcoal records in sediment cores.

The Bass Strait used to serve as a connecting bridge between Tasmania and mainland Australia until about 11,000 to 8000 years ago, when sea levels rose and the Bassian Bridge was submerged, rendering the Tasmania population isolated from the Australian mainland for many years.

We currently only have some information on the impact of sea-level rise on the human population; however, we have little or no knowledge of the vegetation and fire history of the Bass Strait Islands in relation to sea levels, the climate and humans, and my research is aimed at filling this knowledge gap.

I recently conducted my field work in December 2019 on Cape Barren Island, which was really interesting, and it involved flying, sailing and sampling sites on the island. And yes, I saw lots of snakes, which was scary!

The field work involved a vegetation survey and the collection of multiple sediment cores in lagoons and swamps, as well as engaging the local Indigenous communities and explaining my research and experience to them. Overall, the field work was a great experience, and I’d like Professor Simon Haberle for organising it. A big thanks as well to other members of the team who came along to help out on site.

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