A review of the palaeo-environment of Kangaroo Island, South Australia, through the Late Pleistocene and Holocene with notes on a recent study

Shaun Adams1, Matthew McDowell2 and Gavin Prideaux3

1,2,3 School of Biological Sciences, Flinders University

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Dig It: The Journal of the Flinders Archaeological Society
Volume 2, Issue 2, December 2014

Print: ISSN 1440-2475
Online: ISSN 2203-1898


Kangaroo Island, South Australia, is Australia’s third largest island and only 14 km from the mainland, however, it was uninhabited by people when Europeans arrived in the 19th century (Baudin 1800; Flinders 1814). Previous palaeontological and archaeological research on Kangaroo Island has emphasised raised levels of faunal extinctions following post glacial sea level rise and the subsequent isolation of Kangaroo Island from the Australian mainland (Hope et al. 1977). A recent study (Adams 2013) shows that although species richness drops during the early Holocene, the geographical size of Kangaroo Island is large enough to support a diverse community of Australian native mammals and did so up until the arrival of Europeans. Changes in sediment composition and faunal community tell the story of post-glacial increase in precipitation and subsequent changes in vegetation structure and faunal species abundances which may have directly influenced subsistence strategies of local hunter gatherer populations.


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