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Last glacial maximum biomes reconstructed from pollen and plant macrofossil data from northern Eurasia

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Pollen and plant macrofossil data from northern Eurasia were used to reconstruct the vegetation of the last glacial maximum (LGM: 18,000 ± 2000 14C yr bp) using an objective quantitative method for interpreting pollen data in terms of the biomes they represent ( Prentice et al., 1996 ). The results confirm previous qualitative vegetation reconstructions at the LGM but provide a more comprehensive analysis of the data.

Tundra dominated a large area of northern Eurasia (north of 57°N) to the west, south and east of the Scandinavian ice sheet at the LGM.

Steppe-like vegetation was reconstructed in the latitudinal band from western Ukraine, where temperate deciduous forests grow today, to western Siberia, where taiga and cold deciduous forests grow today. The reconstruction shows that steppe graded into tundra in Siberia, which is not the case today.

Taiga grew on the northern coast of the Sea of Azov, about 1500 km south of its present limit in European Russia. In contrast, taiga was reconstructed only slightly south of its southern limit today in south-western Siberia.

Broadleaved trees were confined to small refuges, e.g. on the eastern coast of the Black Sea, where cool mixed forest was reconstructed from the LGM data.

Cool conifer forests in western Georgia were reconstructed as growing more than 1000 m lower than they grow today. The few scattered sites with LGM data from the Tien-Shan Mountains and from northern Mongolia yielded biome reconstructions of steppe and taiga, which are the biomes growing there today.
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Keywords: Biomes; Former Soviet Union; Mongolia; last glacial maximum; plant functional types; pollen data; vegetation changes; vegetation map

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Geology, Russian Academy of Sciences (Siberian Branch), Universitetskii 3, Novosibirsk 630090, Russia, 2: Department of Geological Sciences, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912–1846, USA, 3: Laboratoire de Botanique Historique et Palynologie, CNRS UA 1152, Faculté de St-Jérôme, Case 451, F-13397 Marseille Cedex 20, France, 4: NASA/Goddard Institute for Space Studies, 2280 Broadway, New York, NY 10025, USA, 5: Institute of Botany, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Tereshchenkovskaya 2, Kiev 252601, Ukraine, 6: Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology, Russian Academy of Sciences (Ural Branch), 8 Marta 202, Ekaterinburg 620219, Russia, 7: Institute of Evolution and Ecology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Piatnitskaya 47, Stroenie 3, Moscow 109017, Russia, 8: Institute of Palaeobiology, Georgian Academy of Sciences, Potomaja 4, Tbilisi 380004, Georgia, 9: Central Geological Laboratory, Zvenigorodskoe Shosse 9, Moscow, Russia, 10: Forest Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences (Ural Branch), Bilimbaevskaya 32 A, Ekaterinburg 620134, Russia, 11: Department of Geography and Geoecology, St. Petersburg University, 10 Liniya 33, St. Petersburg 199178, Russia

Publication date: 2000-05-01

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