Rapid Changes in the Range Limits of Scots Pine 4000 Years Ago

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Science  01 Feb 1991:
Vol. 251, Issue 4993, pp. 544-547
DOI: 10.1126/science.251.4993.544


Paleoecological data provide estimates of response rates to past climate changes. Fossil Pinus sylvestris stumps in far northern Scotland demonstrate former presence of pine trees where conventional pollen evidence of pine forests is lacking. Radiocarbon, dendrochronological, and fine temporal-resolution palynological data show that pine forests were present for about four centuries some 4000 years ago; the forests expanded and then retreated rapidly some 70 to 80 kilometers. Despite the rapidity of this response to climate change, it occurred at rates slower by an order of magnitude than those necessary to maintain equilibrium with forecast climate changes attributed to the greenhouse effect.

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