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Vegetation, climate and fire in the eastern Andes (Bolivia) during the last 18,000 years

Williams, Joseph J.; Gosling, William D.; Brooks, Stephen J.; Coe, Angela L. and Xu, Sheng (2011). Vegetation, climate and fire in the eastern Andes (Bolivia) during the last 18,000 years. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 312(1-2) pp. 115–126.

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A c. 18 ka cal BP long sediment record from Laguna Khomer Kocha Upper (4153 m asl), Bolivia, shows that fire regime, governed by climatic variation, has long been a transformative agent in the eastern Andes. Before c. 14.5 ka cal BP, warming and relatively moist conditions free from fire, facilitated the expansion of high Andean Polylepis woodland. Fire onset at c. 14.5.ka cal BP, quickly transformed the local vegetation and the woodlands became restricted to areas protected from fire. A major increase in burning, c. 10.1–6.4 ka cal BP removed Polylepis woodland locally and this coincided with a region-wide Holocene dry event (HDE) which caused falling lake levels and allowed fire intensification. A decline in burning at c. 6.4 ka cal BP and an increase in marsh–woodland (Alnus) marked the termination of the HDE and a return to wetter conditions. As well as recording the environmental history of local vegetation dynamics, long-distance pollen transport provides evidence of changes in the Yungas montane forests, highlighting their sensitivity to climate and burning regimes. Simultaneous adjustments in both Andean and Yungas montane taxa suggest that vegetation dynamics in the two environments are linked to a common climatic driver. There is no evidence to indicate that human activity had any impact on the local landscape.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2011 Elsevier B.V.
ISSN: 0031-0182
Project Funding Details:
Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
Human-climate impacts on Polylepis woodlands in the Andes.NE/F008082/1NERC (Natural Environment Research Council)
Not Set8105-06National Geographic Committee for Research and Exploration
Radiocarbon facility support1287.0408NERC (Natural Environment Research Council)
Radiocarbon facility support1463.0410NERC (Natural Environment Research Council)
Keywords: fossil pollen; fossil charcoal; deglaciation; Holocene dry event (HDE); polylepis woodland; temperature; precipitation
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences
Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Research Group: OpenSpace Research Centre (OSRC)
Related URLs:
Item ID: 30480
Depositing User: William Gosling
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2012 11:29
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2018 09:58
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