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Title

Forest–savanna–morichal dynamics in relation to fire and human occupation in the southern Gran Sabana (SE Venezuela) during the last millennia

AuthorsMontoya, Encarnación ; Rull, Valentí ; Stansell, Nathan D.; Abbott, Mark B.; Nogué, Sandra; Bird, Broxton W.; Díaz, Wilmer A.
KeywordsFire
Gran Sabana
Human occupation
Last millennia
Charcoal
Mauritia
Neotropics
Paleoecology
Vegetation change
Issue DateNov-2011
PublisherAcademic Press
CitationQuaternary Research 76(3) : 335–344 (2011)
AbstractThe southern Gran Sabana (SE Venezuela) holds a particular type of neotropical savanna characterized by the local occurrence of morichales (Mauritia palmswamps), in a climate apparentlymore suitable for rain forests. We present a paleoecological analysis of the last millennia of Lake Chonita (4°39′N–61°0′W, 884m elevation), based on biological and physico-chemical proxies. Savannas dominated the region during the last millennia, but a significant vegetation replacement occurred in recent times. The site was covered by a treeless savanna with nearby rainforests from 3640 to 2180 cal yr BP. Water levels were higher than today until about 2800 cal yr BP. Forests retreated since about 2180 cal yr BP onwards, likely influenced by a higher fire incidence that facilitated a dramatic expansion of morichales. The simultaneous appearance of charcoal particles and Mauritia pollen around 2000 cal yr BP supports the potential pyrophilous nature of this palm and the importance of fire for its recent expansion. The whole picture suggests human settlements similar to today – in which fire is an essential element – since around 2000 yr ago. Therefore, present-day southern Gran Sabana landscapes seem to have been the result of the synergy between biogeographical, climatic and anthropogenic factors, mostly fire.
Description20 p., 6 fig.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.yqres.2011.06.014
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/72582
DOIhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.yqres.2011.06.014
E-ISSN1096-0287
Appears in Collections:(IBB) Artículos
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