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Palaeovegetation of China: a pollen data-based synthesis for the mid-Holocene and last glacial maximum

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Pollen data from China for 6000 and 18,000 14C yr bpwere compiled and used to reconstruct palaeovegetation patterns, using complete taxon lists where possible and a biomization procedure that entailed the assignment of 645 pollen taxa to plant functional types. A set of 658 modern pollen samples spanning all biomes and regions provided a comprehensive test for this procedure and showed convincing agreement between reconstructed biomes and present natural vegetation types, both geographically and in terms of the elevation gradients in mountain regions of north-eastern and south-western China.

The 6000 14C yr bpmap confirms earlier studies in showing that the forest biomes in eastern China were systematically shifted northwards and extended westwards during the mid-Holocene. Tropical rain forest occurred on mainland China at sites characterized today by either tropical seasonal or broadleaved evergreen/warm mixed forest. Broadleaved evergreen/warm mixed forest occurred further north than today, and at higher elevation sites within the modern latitudinal range of this biome. The northern limit of temperate deciduous forest was shifted c. 800 km north relative to today.

The 18,000 14C yr bpmap shows that steppe and even desert vegetation extended to the modern coast of eastern China at the last glacial maximum, replacing today’s temperate deciduous forest. Tropical forests were excluded from China and broadleaved evergreen/warm mixed forest had retreated to tropical latitudes, while taiga extended southwards to c. 43°N.
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Keywords: China; Pollen data; biomes; last glacial maximum; mid-Holocene; plant functional types; vegetation changes

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Laboratory of Historical Botany and Palynology, CNRS, F-13397 Marseilles Cedex 20, France, 2: Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, Chinese Academy of Science, Nanjing 210093, China, 3: Institute of Geography, Chinese Academy of Science, Beijing 100000, China, 4: Xi’an College of Engineering, Shaanxi 710054, China, 5: Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Science, Beijing 100093, China, 6: Department of Geology, National Taiwan University, Taipei 10770, Taiwan, 7: Lanzhou Institute of Glaciology and Geocryology, Chinese Academy of Science, Lanzhou 730000, China, 8: Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, Chinese Academy of Science, Nanjing 210008, China, 9: Department of Geography, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China 10: Department of Geography and Anthropology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA, 11: National Climate Centre, Beijing 100081, China, 12: Laboratoire d’Ecologie Terrestre, CNRS-UPS, 13 Avenue du Colonel Roche, BP 4403, F-31405 Toulouse Cedex 4, France, 13: Changchun Institute of Geography, Chinese Academy of Science, Jilin 130021, China, 14: Hebei Institute of Geography, Shijiazhuang 050011, China, 15: Xinjiang Institute of Geography, Chinese Academy of Science, Wulumuqi, China, 16: Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, Chinese Academy of Science, Nanjing 210008, China,

Publication date: 2000-05-01

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