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Paleoecology of the Guayana Highlands (northern South record from the Eruoda-tepui, in the Chimantá massif

AuthorsNogué, Sandra; Rull, Valentí ; Montoya, Encarnación ; Huber, Otto; Vegas-Vilarrúbia, Teresa
Vegetation constancy
Issue Date2009
CitationPalaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology 281: 165–173 (2009)
AbstractThe previously recorded vegetation constancy during most of the Holocene, atop some summits of the Guayana tabular mountains (or tepuis), led to the hypotheses of either environmental stability or site insensitivity. As high-mountain biomes are considered to be especially well suited for recording past environmental changes, a palynological study on the uppermost summit of the Chimantá massif was designed to test its suitability for these purposes. A peat sequence was obtained spanning the last ~13.0 cal kyr BP, but an acceptable resolution for paleoecological reconstruction is available only for the last ~4000 years. Around 4.3 cal kyr BP, the modern vegetation was established and has remained virtually unchanged until today; minor paleoenvironmental changes recorded in other sequences around 2.5 cal kyr BP were not detected here. The main paleoclimatic trends are in good agreement with other neotropical records, especially from Lake Valencia and the Cariaco Basin. It is concluded that high-altitude tepuian sites are useful to record paleoenvironmental changes of moderate to high intensity but once a dense vegetation cover is established, gentle shifts remain hidden due to the capacity of plant communities to absorb the changes. The best sites for paleoecological research atop the tepuis are those lying on or near altitudinal ecotones, especially between the meadows and the paramoid shrublands (~2200 m elevation). Sites within the meadow domain, as most well-studied so far, are relatively insensitive to Holocene paleoenvironmental changes.
Description9 p.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2009.07.019
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