Glacial legacies on interglacial vegetation at the Pliocene-Pleistocene transition in NE Asia.
ABSTRACT: Broad-scale climate control of vegetation is widely assumed. Vegetation-climate lags are generally thought to have lasted no more than a few centuries. Here our palaeoecological study challenges this concept over glacial-interglacial timescales. Through multivariate analyses of pollen assemblages from Lake El'gygytgyn, Russian Far East and other data we show that interglacial vegetation during the Plio-Pleistocene transition mainly reflects conditions of the preceding glacial instead of contemporary interglacial climate. Vegetation-climate disequilibrium may persist for several millennia, related to the combined effects of permafrost persistence, distant glacial refugia and fire. In contrast, no effects from the preceding interglacial on glacial vegetation are detected. We propose that disequilibrium was stronger during the Plio-Pleistocene transition than during the Mid-Pliocene Warm Period when, in addition to climate, herbivory was important. By analogy to the past, we suggest today's widespread larch ecosystem on permafrost is not in climate equilibrium. Vegetation-based reconstructions of interglacial climates used to assess atmospheric CO2-temperature relationships may thus yield misleading simulations of past global climate sensitivity.
Project description:Reconstructions of past Saharan dust deposition in marine sediments provide foundational records of North African climate over time scales of 103 to 106 years. Previous dust records show primarily glacial-interglacial variability in the Pleistocene, in contrast to other monsoon records showing strong precessional variability. Here, we present the first Saharan dust record spanning multiple glacial cycles obtained using 230Th normalization, an improved method of calculating fluxes. Contrary to previous data, our record from the West African margin demonstrates high correlation with summer insolation and limited glacial-interglacial changes, indicating coherent variability in the African monsoon belt throughout the late Pleistocene. Our results demonstrate that low-latitude Saharan dust emissions do not vary synchronously with high- and mid-latitude dust emissions, and they call into question the use of existing Plio-Pleistocene dust records to investigate links between climate and hominid evolution.
Project description:Ecosystem boundaries, such as the Arctic-Boreal treeline, are strongly coupled with climate and were spatially highly dynamic during past glacial-interglacial cycles. Only a few studies cover vegetation changes since the last interglacial, as most of the former landscapes are inundated and difficult to access. Using pollen analysis and sedimentary ancient DNA (sedaDNA) metabarcoding, we reveal vegetation changes on Bol'shoy Lyakhovsky Island since the last interglacial from permafrost sediments. Last interglacial samples depict high levels of floral diversity with the presence of trees (Larix, Picea, Populus) and shrubs (Alnus, Betula, Ribes, Cornus, Saliceae) on the currently treeless island. After the Last Glacial Maximum, Larix re-colonised the island but disappeared along with most shrub taxa. This was probably caused by Holocene sea-level rise, which led to increased oceanic conditions on the island. Additionally, we applied two newly developed larch-specific chloroplast markers to evaluate their potential for tracking past population dynamics from environmental samples. The novel markers were successfully re-sequenced and exhibited two variants of each marker in last interglacial samples. SedaDNA can track vegetation changes as well as genetic changes across geographic space through time and can improve our understanding of past processes that shape modern patterns.
Project description:Motivation:In order to understand how species evolutionarily responded to Plio-Pleistocene climate oscillations (e.g. in terms of speciation, extinction, migration and adaptation), it is first important to have a good understanding of those past climate changes per se. This, however, is currently limited due to the lack of global-scale climatic datasets with high temporal resolution spanning the Plio-Pleistocene. To fill this gap, I here present Oscillayers, a global-scale and region-specific bioclim dataset, facilitating the study of climatic oscillations during the last 5.4 million years at high spatial (2.5 arc-minutes) and temporal (10 kyr time periods) resolution. This dataset builds upon interpolated anomalies (? layers) between bioclim layers of the present and the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) that are scaled relative to the Plio-Pleistocene global mean temperature curve, derived from benthic stable oxygen isotope ratios, to generate bioclim variables for 539 time periods. Evaluation of the scaled, interpolated estimates of palaeo-climates generated for the Holocene, Last Interglacial and Pliocene showed good agreement with independent general circulation models (GCMs) for respective time periods in terms of pattern correlation and absolute differences. Oscillayers thus provides a new tool for studying spatial-temporal patterns of evolutionary and ecological processes at high temporal and spatial resolution. Main types of variable contained:Nineteen bioclim variables for time periods throughout the Plio-Pleistocene. Input data and R script to recreate all 19 bioclim variables. Spatial location and grain:Global at 2.5 arc-minutes (4.65 x 4.65 = 21.62 km2 at the equator). Time period and grain:The last 5.4 million years. The grain is 10 kyr (= 539 time periods). Level of measurement:Data are for terrestrial climates (excluding Antarctica) taking sea level changes into account. Software format:All data are available as ASCII grid files.
Project description:Here we conduct research to understand the evolutionary history of a shrubby species known as Agarito (Berberis trifoliolata), an endemic species to the Chihuahuan Desert. We identify genetic signatures based on plastid DNA and AFLP markers and perform niche modelling and spatial connectivity analyses as well as niche modelling based on records in packrats to elucidate whether orogenic events such as mountain range uplift in the Miocene or the contraction/expansion dynamics of vegetation in response to climate oscillations in the Pliocene/Pleistocene had an effect on evolutionary processes in Agarito. Our results of current niche modelling and palaeomodelling showed that the area currently occupied by Berberis trifoliolata is substantially larger than it was during the Last Interglacial period and the Last Glacial Maximum. Agarito was probably confined to small areas in the Northeastern and gradually expanded its distribution just after the Last Glacial Maximum when the weather in the Chihuahuan Desert and adjacent regions became progressively warmer and drier. The most contracted range was predicted for the Interglacial period. Populations remained in stable areas during the Last Glacial Maximum and expanded at the beginning of the Holocene. Most genetic variation occured in populations from the Sierra Madre Oriental. Two groups of haplotypes were identified: the Mexican Plateau populations and certain Northeastern populations. Haplogroups were spatially connected during the Last Glacial Maximum and separated during interglacial periods. The most important prediction of packrat middens palaeomodelling lies in the Mexican Plateau, a finding congruent with current and past niche modelling predictions for agarito and genetic results. Our results corroborate that these climate changes in the Pliocene/Pleistocene affected the evolutionary history of agarito. The journey of agarito in the Chihuahuan Desert has been dynamic, expanding and contracting its distribution range and currently occupying the largest area in its history.
Project description:In the early Pleistocene, global temperature cycles predominantly varied with ~41-kyr (obliquity-scale) periodicity. Atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations likely played a role in these climate cycles; marine sediments provide an indirect geochemical means to estimate early Pleistocene CO2. Here we present a boron isotope-based record of continuous high-resolution surface ocean pH and inferred atmospheric CO2 changes. Our results show that, within a window of time in the early Pleistocene (1.38-1.54 Ma), pCO2 varied with obliquity, confirming that, analogous to late Pleistocene conditions, the carbon cycle and climate covaried at ~1.5 Ma. Pairing the reconstructed early Pleistocene pCO2 amplitude (92 ±13 ?atm) with a comparably smaller global surface temperature glacial/interglacial amplitude (3.0 ±0.5 K), yields a surface temperature change to CO2 radiative forcing ratio of S [CO2]~0.75 (± 0.5) °C/Wm-2, as compared to the late Pleistocene S [CO2] value of ~1.75 (± 0.6) °C/Wm-2. This direct comparison of pCO2 and temperature implicitly incorporates the large ice sheet forcing as an internal feedback and is not directly applicable to future warming. We evaluate this result with a simple climate model, and show that the presumably thinner, though extensive, northern hemisphere ice sheets would increase surface temperature sensitivity to radiative forcing. Thus, the mechanism to dampen actual temperature variability in the early Pleistocene more likely lies with Southern Ocean circulation dynamics or antiphase hemispheric forcing. We also compile this new carbon dioxide record with published Plio-Pleistocene ?11B records using consistent boundary conditions and explore potential reasons for the discrepancy between Pliocene pCO2 based on different planktic foraminifera.
Project description:The end of the Pleistocene in North America saw the extinction of 38 genera of mostly large mammals. As their disappearance seemingly coincided with the arrival of people in the Americas, their extinction is often attributed to human overkill, notwithstanding a dearth of archaeological evidence of human predation. Moreover, this period saw the extinction of other species, along with significant changes in many surviving taxa, suggesting a broader cause, notably, the ecological upheaval that occurred as Earth shifted from a glacial to an interglacial climate. But, overkill advocates ask, if extinctions were due to climate changes, why did these large mammals survive previous glacial-interglacial transitions, only to vanish at the one when human hunters were present? This question rests on two assumptions: that previous glacial-interglacial transitions were similar to the end of the Pleistocene, and that the large mammal genera survived unchanged over multiple such cycles. Neither is demonstrably correct. Resolving the cause of large mammal extinctions requires greater knowledge of individual species' histories and their adaptive tolerances, a fuller understanding of how past climatic and ecological changes impacted those animals and their biotic communities, and what changes occurred at the Pleistocene-Holocene boundary that might have led to those genera going extinct at that time. Then we will be able to ascertain whether the sole ecologically significant difference between previous glacial-interglacial transitions and the very last one was a human presence.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The glacial-interglacial cycles in the Pleistocene caused repeated range expansion and contraction of species in several regions in the world. However, it remains uncertain whether such climate oscillations had similar impact on East Asian biota, despite its widely recognized importance in global biodiversity. Here we use both molecular and ecological niche profiles on 11 East Asian avian species with various elevational ranges to reveal their response to the late Pleistocene climate changes. RESULTS:The ecological niche models (ENM) consistently showed that these avian species might substantially contract their ranges to the south during the Last Interglacial period (LIG) and expanded their northern range margins through the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), leading to the LGM ranges observed for all 11 species. Consistently, coalescent simulations based on 25-30 nuclear genes retrieved signatures of significant population growth through the last glacial period across all species studied. Climate statistics suggested that high climatic variability during the LIG and a relatively mild climate at the LGM potentially explained the historical population dynamics of these birds. CONCLUSIONS:This is the first study based on multiple species and both lines of ecological niche profiles and genetic data to characterize the unique response of East Asian biota to late Pleistocene climate. The present study highlights regional differences in the evolutionary consequence of climate change during the last glacial cycle and implies that global warming might pose a great risk to species in this region given potentially higher climatic variation in the future analogous to that during the LIG.
Project description:Equatorial Southeast Asia is a key region for global climate change. Here, the Indo-Pacific Warm Pool (IPWP) is a critical driver of atmospheric convection that plays a dominant role in global atmospheric circulation. However, fluctuating sea-levels during the Pleistocene produced the most drastic land-sea area changes on Earth, with the now-drowned continent of Sundaland being exposed as a contiguous landmass for most of the past 2 million years. How vegetation responded to changes in rainfall that resulted from changing shelf exposure and glacial boundary conditions in Sundaland remains poorly understood. Here we use the stable carbon isotope composition (δ<sup>13</sup>C) of bat guano and High Molecular Weight n-alkanes, from Saleh Cave in southern Borneo to demonstrate that open vegetation existed during much the past 40,000 yrs BP. This location is at the southern equatorial end of a hypothesized 'savanna corridor' and the results provide the strongest evidence yet for its existence. The corridor would have operated as a barrier to east-west dispersal of rainforest species, and a conduit for north-south dispersal of savanna species at times of lowered sea level, explaining many modern biogeographic patterns. The Saleh Cave record also exhibits a strong correspondence with insolation and sea surface temperatures of the IPWP, suggesting a strong sensitivity of vegetation to tropical climate change on glacial/interglacial timeframes.
Project description:Methane production in thawing permafrost can be substantial, yet often evolves after long lag phases or is even lacking. A central question is to which extent the production of methane after permafrost thaw is determined by the initial methanogenic community. We quantified the production of methane relative to carbon dioxide (CO2) and enumerated methanogenic (mcrA) gene copies in long-term (2-7 years) anoxic incubations at 4 °C using interglacial and glacial permafrost samples of Holocene and Pleistocene, including Eemian, origin. Changes in archaeal community composition were determined by sequencing of the archaeal 16S rRNA gene. Long-term thaw stimulated methanogenesis where methanogens initially dominated the archaeal community. Deposits of interstadial and interglacial (Eemian) origin, formed under higher temperatures and precipitation, displayed the greatest response to thaw. At the end of the incubations, a substantial shift in methanogenic community composition and a relative increase in hydrogenotrophic methanogens had occurred except for Eemian deposits in which a high abundance of potential acetoclastic methanogens were present. This study shows that only anaerobic CO2 production but not methane production correlates significantly with carbon and nitrogen content and that the methanogenic response to permafrost thaw is mainly constrained by the paleoenvironmental conditions during soil formation.
Project description:The impact of past global climate change on local terrestrial ecosystems and their vegetation and soil organic matter (OM) pools is often non-linear and poorly constrained. To address this, we investigated the response of a temperate habitat influenced by global climate change in a key glacial refuge, Lake Ohrid (Albania, Macedonia). We applied independent geochemical and palynological proxies to a sedimentary archive from the lake over the penultimate glacial-interglacial transition (MIS 6-5) and the following interglacial (MIS 5e-c), targeting lake surface temperature as an indicator of regional climatic development and the supply of pollen and biomarkers from the vegetation and soil OM pools to determine local habitat response. Climate fluctuations strongly influenced the ecosystem, however, lake level controls the extent of terrace surfaces between the shoreline and mountain slopes and hence local vegetation, soil development and OM export to the lake sediments. There were two phases of transgressional soil erosion from terrace surfaces during lake-level rise in the MIS 6-5 transition that led to habitat loss for the locally dominant pine vegetation as the terraces drowned. Our observations confirm that catchment morphology plays a key role in providing refuges with low groundwater depth and stable soils during variable climate.