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Climate change and vegetation dynamics during the Holocene: The paleoecological record.
Tausch, Robin*,1, Nowak, Cheryl1, Mensing, Scott2, 1 USDA Forest Service, Reno, Nevada2 Geography Department, Reno, NV
ABSTRACT- Great Basin communities are highly sensitive to climate change processes. The better our understanding of change from the relationships between Holocene climate change and vegetation dynamics found in the paleoecological record, the better will be our understanding of present and future changes. Climatic variation during the Holocene in North America is summarized from other paleocological studies from the western United States with focus on the Great Basin. Past changes are also linked to the changes that have occurred since European settlement. Packrat midden data are used to determine high temporal resolution patterns of change in central Nevada riparian systems over the last 5,000 years. The midden data are supplemented with both pollen core data and current vegetation data. The diversity and relative composition of tree, shrub, grass, and forb taxa in riparian systems show variations that parallel patterns of regional and hemispheric climate changes described by study results from deep ocean cores. Changes in vegetation over the last half of the Holocene are the result of complex interactions between vegetation and climate change. Recently, complex interactions with anthropogenic factors have been added. Parallels in the cyclic patterns of change in riparian vegetation, and those in climate, have important implications for future changes in the Great Basin that could result from global warming.
KEY WORDS: climate change, holcene vegetation dynamics, great basin, riparian vegetation