Skip to main content
×
×
Home

50,000 years of vegetation and climate history on the Colorado Plateau, Utah and Arizona, USA

  • Larry L. Coats (a1), Kenneth L. Cole (a2) and Jim I. Mead (a3) (a4)
Abstract

Sixty packrat middens were collected in Canyonlands and Grand Canyon National Parks, and these series include sites north of areas that produced previous detailed series from the Colorado Plateau. The exceptionally long time series obtained from each of three sites (> 48,000 14C yr BP to present) include some of the oldest middens yet discovered. Most middens contain a typical late-Wisconsinan glaciation mixture of mesic and xeric taxa, evidence that plant species responded to climate change by range adjustments of elevational distribution based on individual criteria. Differences in elevational range from today for trees and shrubs ranged from no apparent change to as much as 1200 m difference. The oldest middens from Canyonlands NP, however, differ in containing strictly xeric assemblages, including middens incorporating needles of Arizona single-leaf pinyon, far north of its current distribution. Similar-aged middens from the eastern end of Grand Canyon NP contain plants more typical of glacial climates, but also contain fossils of one-seed juniper near its current northern limit in Arizona. Holocene middens reveal the development of modern vegetation assemblages on the Colorado Plateau, recording departures of mesic taxa from low elevation sites, and the arrival of modern dominant components much later.

Copyright
Corresponding author
*Corresponding author. Fax +1 801 581 8219. E-mail address: larry.coats@geog.utah.edu (L.L. Coats).
References
Hide All
Abrams, L., (1940). Illustrated Flora of the Pacific States, Vol. III.. Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA.
Anderson, R.S., Betancourt, J.L., Mead, J.I., Hevly, R.H., Adam, D.P., (2000). Middle- and late-Wisconsin paleobotanic and paleoclimatic records from the southern Colorado Plateau, USA.. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 155, 3157.
Arnberger, L.P., (1982). Flowers of the Southwest Mountains.. Southwest Parks and Monuments Association, Tucson, AZ.
Arundel, S.T., (2002). Modeling climate limits of plants found in Sonoran Desert packrat middens.. Quaternary Research, 58, 112121.
Benson, L., (1969). The Cacti of Arizona.. The University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ.
Benson, L., Darrow, R.A., (1981). Trees and Shrubs of the Southwestern Deserts.. The University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ.
Betancourt, J.L., (1984). Late Quaternary plant zonation and climate in southeastern Utah.. Great Basin Naturalist 44, 135.
Betancourt, J.L., (1990). Late Quaternary biogeography of the Colorado Plateau.. Betancourt, J.L., Van Devender, T.R., Martin, P.S. Packrat Middens: The Last 40,000 Years of Biotic Change The University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ., pp. 259292.
Betancourt, J.L., (1995). Long- and short-term climate influences on Southwestern shrublands.. Barrow, J.R., McArthur, E.D., Sosebee, R.E., Tausch, R.J. Proceedings: Shrubland Ecosystem Dynamics in a Changing Environment, Intermountain Research Station U. S. Department of Agriculture, Ogden, UT., pp. 59.
Betancourt, J.L., Davis., O.K., (1984). Packrat middens from Canyon de Chelly, northeastern Arizona: Paleoecological and archeological considerations.. Quaternary Research 21, 5664.
Betancourt, J.L., Van Devender, T.R., (1981). Holocene vegetation in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico.. Science 214, 656658.
Betancourt, J.L., Martin, P.S., Van Devender, T.R., (1983). Fossil packrat middens from Chaco Canyon, New Mexico: Cultural and ecological significance.. Wells, S.G., Love, D.W., Gardner, T.W. Chaco Canyon Country: A Field Guide to the Geomorphology, Quaternary Geology, Paleoecology, and Environmental Geology of Northwestern New Mexico American Geomorphological Field Group, Field Trip Guidebook, 207217.
Betancourt, J.L., Schuster, W.S., Mitton, J.B., Anderson, R.S., (1991). Fossil and genetic history of a pinyon pine (Pinus edulis) isolate.. Ecology 72, 16851697.
Betancourt, J.L., Rylander, K.A., Peñalba, C., McVickar, J.L., (2001). Late Quaternary vegetation history of Rough Canyon, south-central New Mexico, USA.. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 165, 7195.
Bond, G.C., Lotti, R., (1995). Iceberg discharges into the North Atlantic on millennial time scales during the last glaciation.. Science 267, 10051010.
Bowers, J.E., (1993). Shrubs and Trees of the Southwest Deserts.. Southwest Parks and Monuments Association, Tucson, AZ.
Cinnamon, S. K., (1988). The vegetation community of Cedar Canyon, Wupatki National Monument, as influenced by prehistoric and historical environmental change.. Unpublished M.S. thesis, Northern Arizona University, 98 pp.
Cinnamon, S.K., Hevly, R.H., (1988). Late Wisconsin macroscopic remains of pinyon pine on the southern Colorado Plateau, Arizona.. Current Research in the Pleistocene 5, 4748.
Coats, L.L., (1997). Middle to late Wisconsinan vegetation change at Little Nankoweap, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.. Unpublished M.S. thesis, Northern Arizona University, 139 pp.
Cole, K.L., (1981.). Late Quaternary environments in the eastern Grand Canyon: Vegetational gradients over the last 25,000 years.. Ph.D. thesis, Univ. of Arizona, .
Cole, K.L., (1982). Late Quaternary zonation of vegetation in the Grand Canyon.. Science 217, 11421145.
Cole, K.L., (1983). Late Pleistocene vegetation of Kings Canyon, Sierra Nevada, California.. Quaternary Research 19, 117129.
Cole, K.L., (1985). Past rates of change, species richness, and a model of vegetational inertia in the Grand Canyon, Arizona.. American Naturalist 125, 289303.
Cole, K.L., (1990a). Late Quaternary vegetation gradients through the Grand Canyon.. Betancourt, J.L., Van Devender, T.R., Martin, P.S. Packrat Middens: The Last 40,000 Years of Biotic Change The University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ., pp. 240258.
Cole, K.L., (1990b). Reconstruction of past desert vegetation along the Colorado River using packrat middens.. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 76, 349366.
Cole, K.L., Mayer, L., (1982). The use of fossil packrat middens to determine cliff retreat rates in the eastern Grand Canyon, Arizona.. Geology 10, 597599.
Cole, K.L., Arundel, S.T., (2005). Carbon isotopes from fossil packrat pellets and elevational movements of Utah agave plants reveal the Younger Dryas cold period in Grand Canyon, Arizona.. Geology 33, 713716.
Cole, K.L., Henderson, N., Shafer, D.S., (1997). Holocene vegetation and historic grazing impacts at Capitol Reef National Park reconstructed using packrat middens.. Great Basin Naturalist 57, 315326.
Cole, K.L., Fisher, J., Arundel, S., Cannella, J., Swift, S., (2008). Geographic and climatic limits of needle types of one and two-needled pinyon pines.. Journal of Biogeography 35, 257269.
Core, E.L., Ammons, N.P., (1958). Woody Plants in Winter.. The Boxwood Press, Pittsburgh, PA.
Dansgaard, W., Johnsen, S.J., Clausen, H.B., Dahl-Jensen, D., Gundestrup, N.S., Hammer, C.U., Hvidberg, C.S., Steffensen, J.P., Sveinbjörnsdottir, A.E., Jouzel, J., Bond, G., (1993). Evidence for general instability of past climate from a 250-kyr ice-core record.. Nature 364, 218220.
Denniston, R.F., Asmerom, Y., Polyak, V., Dorale, J.A., Carpenter, S.J., Trodick, C., Hoye, B., González, L.A., (2007). Synchronous millennial-scale climatic changes in the Great Basin and the North Atlantic during the last interglacial.. Geology 35, 619622.
Dial, K.P., Czaplewski, N.J., (1990). Do woodrat middens accurately represent the animals' environments and diets? The Woodhouse Mesa study.. Betancourt, J.L., Van Devender, T.R., Martin, P.S. Packrat Middens: The Last 40,000 Years of Biotic Change The University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ., pp. 4358.
Dodge, N.N., (1985). Flowers of the Southwest Deserts.. Southwest Parks and Monuments Association, Tucson, AZ.
Dryer, J. D., (1994). Late Pleistocene vegetation change at Stanton's Cave, Colorado River, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.. Unpublished M.S. thesis, Northern Arizona University, 109 pp.
Elmore, F.H., (1976). Shrubs and Trees of the Southwest Uplands.. Southwest Parks and Monuments Association, Tucson, AZ.
Finley, R.B. Jr. (1990). Woodrat ecology and behavior and the interpretation of paleomiddens.. Betancourt, J.L., Van Devender, T.R., Martin, P.S. Packrat Middens: The Last 40,000 Years of Biotic Change The University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ., pp. 2842.
Fischer, P.C., (1989). 70 Common Cacti of the Southwest.. Southwest Parks and Monuments Association, Tucson, AZ.
Fisher, J.F., Cole, K.L., Anderson, R.S., (2006). Using Packrat Middens to Assess How Grazing Influences Vegetation Change in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah, USGS Open File Report 2006-1183..
Gray, S.T., Betancourt, J.L., Jackson, S.T., Eddy, R.G., (2006). Role of multidecadal climate variability in a range expansion of pinyon pine.. Ecology 87, 11241130.
Harrison, S.P., Kutzbach, J.E., Prentice, I.C., Behling, P.J., Sykes, M.T., (1995). The response of Northern Hemisphere extratropical climate and vegetation to orbitally induced changes in insolation during the Last Interglaciation.. Quaternary Research 43, 174184.
Heinrich, H., (1988). Origin and consequence of cyclic ice rafting in the northeast Atlantic Ocean during the past 130,000 years.. Quaternary Research 29, 142152.
Hendy, I.L., Kennett, J.P., (1999). Latest Quaternary North Pacific surface-water responses imply atmosphere-driven climate instability.. Geology 27, 291294.
Hevly, R.H., (1985). A 50,000year record of Quaternary environments; Walker Lake, Coconino Co., Arizona.. Jacobs, B.F., Fall, P.L., Davis, O.K. (Eds.), Late Quaternary Vegetation and Climates of the American Southwest. AASP Contributions Series 16, pp. 141154.
Holmgren, C.A., Betancourt, J.L., Rylander, K.A., (2006). A 36,000-yr vegetation history from the Peloncillo Mountains, southeastern Arizona, USA.. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 240, 405422.
Holmgren, C.A., Norris, J., Betancourt, J., (2007). Inferences about winter temperatures and summer rains from the late Quaternary record of C4 perennial grasses and C3 desert shrubs in the northern Chihuahuan Desert.. Journal of Quaternary Science 22, 141161.
Ironside, K., (2006). Climate change research in national parks; Paleoecology, policy, and modeling the future.. Unpublished MS. Thesis, Northern Arizona University, 206 pp.
Jackson, S.T., Betancourt, J.L., Lyford, M.E., Gray, S.T., Rylander, K.A., (2005). A 40,000-year woodrat-midden record of vegetational and biogeographical dynamics in north-eastern Utah, USA.. Journal of Biogeography 32, 10851106.
Kearney, T.H., Peebles, R.H., (1951). Arizona Flora.. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ.
Knight, P. J., (1974). The role of seed morphology in identification of archeological remains.. M.S. thesis, University of New Mexico, .
Lanner, R.M., Van Devender, T.R., (1998). The recent history of pinyon pines in the American Southwest.. Richardson, D.M. Ecology and Biogeography of Pinus Cambridge University Press, 171182.
Little, E.L., (1968). Two new pinyon varieties from Arizona.. Phytologia 17, 329342.
Little, E.L., (1971). Atlas of United States trees, Volume 1. Conifers and important hardwoods.. Miscellaneous Publication No. 1146, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC.
Luchitta, I., Curtis, G.H., Davis, M.E., Davis, S.W., Turrin, B., (2000). Cyclic aggradation and downcutting, fluvial response to volcanic activity, and the calibration of soil-carbonate stages in the western Grand Canyon, Arizona.. Quaternary Research 53, 2333.
Martin, A.C., Barkley, W.D., (1961). Seed Identification Manual.. The University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.
McCarten, N., Van Devender, T.R., (1988). Late Wisconsin vegetation of Robber's Roost in the western Mojave Desert, California.. Madroño 35, 226237.
McDougall, W.B., (1973). Seed Plants of Northern Arizona.. Museum of Northern Arizona, Flagstaff, AZ.
Mead, J.I., Phillips, A.M., (1981). The late Pleistocene and Holocene fauna of Vulture Cave, Grand Canyon, Arizona.. Southwestern Naturalist 26, 257288.
Mead, J.I., Agenbroad, L.D., Phillips, A.M. III, Middleton, L.T., (1987). Extinct mountain goat (Oreamnos harringtoni) in southeastern Utah.. Quaternary Research 27, 323331.
Mead, J.I., Coats, L.L., Schubert, B.W., (2003). Late Pleistocene faunas from caves in the eastern Grand Canyon.. Schubert, B.W., Mead, J.I., Graham, R., Wm, Ice Age Cave Faunas of North America Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis, IN., pp. 166199.
Montgomery, F.H., (1977). Seeds and Fruits of Plants of Eastern Canada and Northeastern United States.. University of Toronto Press, Buffalo, NY.
Muhs, D.R., Simmons, K.R., Steinke, B., (2002). Timing and warmth of the Last Interglacial period: new U-series evidence from Hawaii and Bermuda and a new fossil compilation for North America.. Quaternary Science Reviews 21, 13551383.
Pendall, E., Betancourt, J.L., Leavitt, S.W., (1999). Paleoclimatic significance of δD and δ13C values in pinyon pine needles from packrat middens spanning the last 40,000 years.. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 147, 5372.
Phillips, A. M. III, (1977). Packrats, plants, and the Pleistocene in the lower Grand Canyon.. Ph.D. thesis, Univ. of Arizona, .
Phillips, B.G., Phillips, A.M. III, Bernzott, M.A.S., (1987). Annotated checklist of vascular plants of Grand Canyon National Park.. Monograph Number 7, Grand Canyon Natural History Association, AZ..
Pigati, J.S., Quade, J., Wilson, J., Jull, A.J.T., Lifton, N.A., (2007). Development of low-background vacuum extraction and graphitization systems for 14C dating of old (40–60 ka) samples.. Quaternary International 166, 414.
PRISM, (2004). PRISM Group. Oregon State University, http://www.prismclimate.org, created 4 Feb 2004.
Schmutz, E.M., Dennis, A.E., Harlan, A., Hendricks, D., Zauderer, J., (1976). An ecological survey of Wide Rock Butte in Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona.. Journal of the Arizona Academy of Science 11, 114125.
Spaulding, W.G., (1981). The Late Quaternary vegetation of a southern Nevada mountain range.. Ph.D. thesis, University of Arizona, Tucson.
Spaulding, W.G., (1990). Vegetational and climatic development of the Mojave Desert: the Last Glacial Maximum to present.. Betancourt, J.L., Van Devender, T.R., Martin, P.S. Packrat Middens: The Last 40,000 Years of Biotic Change The University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ., pp. 166199.
Spaulding, W.G., Betancourt, J.L., Croft, L.K., Cole, K.L., (1990). Packrat middens: their composition and methods of analysis.. Betancourt, J.L., Van Devender, T.R., Martin, P.S. Packrat Middens: The Last 40,000 Years of Biotic Change The University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ., pp. 5984.
Swetnam, T.W., Allen, C.D., Betancourt, J.L., (1999). Applied historical ecology: using the past to manage for the future.. Ecological Applications 9, 11891206.
Tausch, R.J., West, N.E., (1986). Morphological variation/precipitation relationships of Great Basin single-needled pinyon.. Barrow, J.R., McArthur, E.D., Sosebee, R.E., Tausch, R.J. Proceedings: Shrubland Ecosystem Dynamics in a Changing Environment Intermountain Research Station, Ogden., pp. 8691.
Thompson, R.S., Whitlock, C., Bartlein, P.J., Harrison, S.P., Spaulding, W.G., (1993). Climatic changes in the western United States since 18,000 yr BP.. Wright, H.E., Kutzbach, J.E., Webb, T. III, Ruddiman, W.F., Street-Perrott, F.A., Bartlein, P.J. Global Climates of the last Glacial Maximum Univ. Minnesota Press, Minneapolis., pp. 468513.
Trelease, W., (1931). Winter Botany.. Dover Publications, New York.
Van Devender, T.R., (1986). Late Quaternary history of pinyon-juniper-oak woodlands dominated by Pinus remota and Pinus edulis.. Everett, R.L. Proceedings— Pinyon-Juniper Conference, Intermountain Research Station U. S. Department of Agriculture, Ogden, UT., pp. 99103.
Van Devender, T.R., (1990). Late Quaternary vegetation and climate of the Sonoran Desert, United States and Mexico.. Betancourt, J.L., Van Devender, T.R., Martin, P.S. Packrat Middens: The Last 40,000 Years of Biotic Change The University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ., pp. 135163.
Van Devender, T.R., King, J.E., (1971). Late Pleistocene vegetational records in western Arizona.. Journal of the Arizona Academy of Science 6, 240244.
Van Devender, T.R., Mead, J.I., (1976). Late Pleistocene and modern plant communities of Shinumo Creek and Peach Springs Wash, lower Grand Canyon, Arizona.. Journal of the Arizona Academy of Science 11, 1622.
Van Devender, T.R., Spaulding, W.G., (1979). The development of climate and vegetation in the southwestern United States.. Science 204, 701710.
Van Devender, T.R., Thompson, R.S., Betancourt, J.L., (1987). Vegetation history of the deserts of southwestern North America; the nature and timing of the Late Wisconsin-Holocene transition.. Ruddiman, W.F., Wright, H.E. Jr. North America and the Adjacent Oceans during the Last Deglaciation. Geological Society of America.. The Geology of North America, v. K-3, Boulder, CO., pp. 323352.
Vaughan, T.L., (1990). Ecology of living packrats.. Betancourt, J.L., Van Devender, T.R., Martin, P.S. Packrat Middens: The Last 40,000 Years of Biotic Change The University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ., pp. 1427.
Webb, R.H., Betancourt, J.L., (1990). The spatial and temporal distribution of radiocarbon ages from packrat middens.. Betancourt, J.L., Van Devender, T.R., Martin, P.S., Packrat Middens: The Last 40,000 Years of Biotic Change The University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ., pp. 85102.
Weber, W.A., (1972). Rocky Mountain Flora.. Colorado Associated University Press, Boulder, CO.
Welsh, S.L., Atwood, N.D., Goodrich, S., Higgins, L.C., (1993). A Utah Flora.. Brigham Young University Print Services, Provo, UT.
Weng, C., Jackson, S.T., (2000). Species differentiation of North American spruce (Picea) based on morphological and anatomical characteristics of needles.. Canadian Journal of Botany 78, 13671383.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Quaternary Research
  • ISSN: 0033-5894
  • EISSN: 1096-0287
  • URL: /core/journals/quaternary-research
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed