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Forest contraction in north equatorial Southeast Asia during the Last Glacial Period.


ABSTRACT: Today, insular Southeast Asia is important for both its remarkably rich biodiversity and globally significant roles in atmospheric and oceanic circulation. Despite the fundamental importance of environmental history for diversity and conservation, there is little primary evidence concerning the nature of vegetation in north equatorial Southeast Asia during the Last Glacial Period (LGP). As a result, even the general distribution of vegetation during the Last Glacial Maximum is debated. Here we show, using the stable carbon isotope composition of ancient cave guano profiles, that there was a substantial forest contraction during the LGP on both peninsular Malaysia and Palawan, while rainforest was maintained in northern Borneo. These results directly support rainforest "refugia" hypotheses and provide evidence that environmental barriers likely reduced genetic mixing between Borneo and Sumatra flora and fauna. Moreover, it sheds light on possible early human dispersal events.

SUBMITTER: Wurster CM 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC2932586 | BioStudies | 2010-01-01T00:00:00Z

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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