A new late Holocene pollen record from Eilandvlei, South Africa

Nadia du Plessis, Michael E. Meadows, Lynne J. Quick, Kelly L. Kirsten

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


It is a well-known fact that the South African palaeoenvironmental record is fairly limited, mainly due to the fact that environmental conditions do not favour the preservation of proxy data sources. This being said, new evidence is emerging from the Wilderness Embayment along the Southern Cape coast of South Africa. This area is of particular interest from a palaeoclimate perspective due to its location within the year round rainfall zone of South Africa, while the presence of both Fynbos and Afrotemperate forest within this region further highlights the importance of studies in the area. This study presents a new late Holocene pollen and charcoal record from Eilandvlei, extending from ca. 3 800 cal yr BP to the present. The sequence is dominated by fynbos, most notably Ericaceae and Restionaceae, with the single largest contributor to the assemblage being the succulent/drought resistant element ChenoAm-type. Significantly increased levels of ChenoAm-type is evident for the period ca. 3200 cal yr BP to ca. 2600 cal yr BP, indicating a major marine event in the area. The record further encompasses the arrival of European colonists in the region ca. 1800 AD, marked by the appearance of Pinus, with subsequent notable fluctuations in other taxa, e.g. Podocarpus and Stoebe-type, possibly the expression of the anthropogenic effect on the landscape. This high resolution record thus highlights significant, albeit short term, fluctuations in climate and vegetation patterns along the southern coast of South Africa and adds to the inadequate records available for the region thus far.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes
EventThe African Quaternary: environments, ecology and humans Inaugural AFQUA conference - Cape Town, South Africa
Duration: 30 Jan 20157 Feb 2015
Conference number: 1


ConferenceThe African Quaternary: environments, ecology and humans Inaugural AFQUA conference
Abbreviated titleAfQUA
Country/TerritorySouth Africa
CityCape Town


  • late Holocene
  • palynology
  • Southern Cape
  • Wilderness


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