Pollen-based biome reconstructions for Latin America at 0, 6000 and 18 000 radiocarbon years

R. Marchant, S.P. Harrison, H. Hooghiemstra, A.M. Cleef, T. van der Hammen, M. Wille

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Abstract

The biomisation method is used to reconstruct Latin American vegetation at 6000±500 and 18 000±1000 radiocarbon years before present (14C yr BP) from pollen data. Tests using modern pollen data from 381 samples derived from 287 locations broadly reproduce potential natural vegetation. The strong temperature gradient associated with the Andes is recorded by a transition from high altitude cool grass/shrubland and cool mixed forest to mid-altitude cool temperate rain forest, to tropical dry, seasonal and rain forest at low altitudes. Reconstructed biomes from a number of sites do not match the potential vegetation due to local factors such as human impact, methodological artefacts and mechanisms of pollen representivity of the parent vegetation. At 6000±500 14C yr BP 255 samples are analysed from 127 sites. Differences between the modern and the 6000±500 14C yr BP reconstruction are comparatively small. Patterns of change relative to the modern reconstruction are mainly to biomes characteristic of drier climate in the north of the region with a slight more mesic shift in the south. Cool temperate rain forest remains dominant in western South America. In northwestern South America a number of sites record transitions from tropical seasonal forest to tropical dry forest and tropical rain forest to tropical seasonal forest. Sites in Central America also show a change in biome assignment to more mesic vegetation, indicative of greater plant available moisture, e.g. on the Yucatán peninsula sites record warm evergreen forest, replacing tropical dry forest and warm mixed forest presently recorded. At 18 000±1000 14C yr BP 61 samples from 34 sites record vegetation that reflects a generally cool and dry environment. Cool grass/shrubland prevalent in southeast Brazil, Amazonian sites record tropical dry forest, warm temperate rain forest and tropical seasonal forest. Southernmost South America is dominated by cool grass/shrubland, a single site retains cool temperate rain forest indicating that forest was present at some locations at the LGM. Some sites in Central México and lowland Colombia remain unchanged in their biome assignments, although the affinities that these sites have to different biomes do change between 18 000±1000 14C yr BP and present. The "unresponsive" nature of these sites results from their location and the impact of local edaphic influence
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-461
JournalClimate of the Past Discussions
Volume5
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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biome
pollen
vegetation
dry forest
shrubland
tropical forest
grass
mixed forest
evergreen forest
anthropogenic effect
temperature gradient
artifact
moisture
rain forest
climate
South America

Cite this

Marchant, R. ; Harrison, S.P. ; Hooghiemstra, H. ; Cleef, A.M. ; van der Hammen, T. ; Wille, M. / Pollen-based biome reconstructions for Latin America at 0, 6000 and 18 000 radiocarbon years. In: Climate of the Past Discussions. 2009 ; Vol. 5, No. 1. pp. 369-461.
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abstract = "The biomisation method is used to reconstruct Latin American vegetation at 6000±500 and 18 000±1000 radiocarbon years before present (14C yr BP) from pollen data. Tests using modern pollen data from 381 samples derived from 287 locations broadly reproduce potential natural vegetation. The strong temperature gradient associated with the Andes is recorded by a transition from high altitude cool grass/shrubland and cool mixed forest to mid-altitude cool temperate rain forest, to tropical dry, seasonal and rain forest at low altitudes. Reconstructed biomes from a number of sites do not match the potential vegetation due to local factors such as human impact, methodological artefacts and mechanisms of pollen representivity of the parent vegetation. At 6000±500 14C yr BP 255 samples are analysed from 127 sites. Differences between the modern and the 6000±500 14C yr BP reconstruction are comparatively small. Patterns of change relative to the modern reconstruction are mainly to biomes characteristic of drier climate in the north of the region with a slight more mesic shift in the south. Cool temperate rain forest remains dominant in western South America. In northwestern South America a number of sites record transitions from tropical seasonal forest to tropical dry forest and tropical rain forest to tropical seasonal forest. Sites in Central America also show a change in biome assignment to more mesic vegetation, indicative of greater plant available moisture, e.g. on the Yucat{\'a}n peninsula sites record warm evergreen forest, replacing tropical dry forest and warm mixed forest presently recorded. At 18 000±1000 14C yr BP 61 samples from 34 sites record vegetation that reflects a generally cool and dry environment. Cool grass/shrubland prevalent in southeast Brazil, Amazonian sites record tropical dry forest, warm temperate rain forest and tropical seasonal forest. Southernmost South America is dominated by cool grass/shrubland, a single site retains cool temperate rain forest indicating that forest was present at some locations at the LGM. Some sites in Central M{\'e}xico and lowland Colombia remain unchanged in their biome assignments, although the affinities that these sites have to different biomes do change between 18 000±1000 14C yr BP and present. The {"}unresponsive{"} nature of these sites results from their location and the impact of local edaphic influence",
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Pollen-based biome reconstructions for Latin America at 0, 6000 and 18 000 radiocarbon years. / Marchant, R.; Harrison, S.P.; Hooghiemstra, H.; Cleef, A.M.; van der Hammen, T.; Wille, M.

In: Climate of the Past Discussions, Vol. 5, No. 1, 2009, p. 369-461.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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AB - The biomisation method is used to reconstruct Latin American vegetation at 6000±500 and 18 000±1000 radiocarbon years before present (14C yr BP) from pollen data. Tests using modern pollen data from 381 samples derived from 287 locations broadly reproduce potential natural vegetation. The strong temperature gradient associated with the Andes is recorded by a transition from high altitude cool grass/shrubland and cool mixed forest to mid-altitude cool temperate rain forest, to tropical dry, seasonal and rain forest at low altitudes. Reconstructed biomes from a number of sites do not match the potential vegetation due to local factors such as human impact, methodological artefacts and mechanisms of pollen representivity of the parent vegetation. At 6000±500 14C yr BP 255 samples are analysed from 127 sites. Differences between the modern and the 6000±500 14C yr BP reconstruction are comparatively small. Patterns of change relative to the modern reconstruction are mainly to biomes characteristic of drier climate in the north of the region with a slight more mesic shift in the south. Cool temperate rain forest remains dominant in western South America. In northwestern South America a number of sites record transitions from tropical seasonal forest to tropical dry forest and tropical rain forest to tropical seasonal forest. Sites in Central America also show a change in biome assignment to more mesic vegetation, indicative of greater plant available moisture, e.g. on the Yucatán peninsula sites record warm evergreen forest, replacing tropical dry forest and warm mixed forest presently recorded. At 18 000±1000 14C yr BP 61 samples from 34 sites record vegetation that reflects a generally cool and dry environment. Cool grass/shrubland prevalent in southeast Brazil, Amazonian sites record tropical dry forest, warm temperate rain forest and tropical seasonal forest. Southernmost South America is dominated by cool grass/shrubland, a single site retains cool temperate rain forest indicating that forest was present at some locations at the LGM. Some sites in Central México and lowland Colombia remain unchanged in their biome assignments, although the affinities that these sites have to different biomes do change between 18 000±1000 14C yr BP and present. The "unresponsive" nature of these sites results from their location and the impact of local edaphic influence

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