Report

The Response of Vegetation on the Andean Flank in Western Amazonia to Pleistocene Climate Change

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Science  25 Feb 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6020, pp. 1055-1058
DOI: 10.1126/science.1197947

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Abstract

A reconstruction of past environmental change from Ecuador reveals the response of lower montane forest on the Andean flank in western Amazonia to glacial-interglacial global climate change. Radiometric dating of volcanic ash indicates that deposition occurred ~324,000 to 193,000 years ago during parts of Marine Isotope Stages 9, 7, and 6. Fossil pollen and wood preserved within organic sediments suggest that the composition of the forest altered radically in response to glacial-interglacial climate change. The presence of Podocarpus macrofossils ~1000 meters below the lower limit of their modern distribution indicates a relative cooling of at least 5°C during glacials and persistence of wet conditions. Interglacial deposits contain thermophilic palms suggesting warm and wet climates. Hence, global temperature change can radically alter vegetation communities and biodiversity in this region.

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