48,000 Years of Climate and Forest Change in a Biodiversity Hot Spot

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Science  06 Feb 2004:
Vol. 303, Issue 5659, pp. 827-829
DOI: 10.1126/science.1090795

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A continuous 48,000-year-long paleoecological record from Neotropical lower montane forest reveals a consistent forest presence and an ice-age cooling of ∼5° to 9°C. After 30,000 years of compositional stability, a steady turnover of species marks the 8000-year-long transition from ice-age to Holocene conditions. Although the changes were directional, the rates of community change were no different during this transitional period than in the preceding 30,000-year period of community stability. The warming rate of about 1°C per millennium during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition was an order of magnitude less than the projected changes for the 21st century.

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