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Holocene Vegetation History from Fossil Rodent Middens near Arequipa, Peru

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Camille A. Holmgren
Affiliation:
Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, 85721,, E-mail: holmgren@geo.arizona.edu
Julio L. Betancourt
Affiliation:
U.S. Geological Survey, 1675 W. Anklam Rd. Tucson, Arizona, 85745, USA
Kate Aasen Rylander
Affiliation:
U.S. Geological Survey, 1675 W. Anklam Rd. Tucson, Arizona, 85745, USA
Jose Roque
Affiliation:
Department of Monocotiledóneas y Gimnospermas, Museo de Historia Natural de la Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Avenida Arenales 1256, Jesús Marı́a, Apartado, Lima, 14-0434, Peru
Oscar Tovar
Affiliation:
Department of Monocotiledóneas y Gimnospermas, Museo de Historia Natural de la Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Avenida Arenales 1256, Jesús Marı́a, Apartado, Lima, 14-0434, Peru
Horacio Zeballos
Affiliation:
Departamento de Ciencias Biológicas y Agropecuarias, Universidad de San Agustı́n, Avenida Carrión, Arequipa, Peru
Eliana Linares
Affiliation:
Departamento de Ciencias Biológicas y Agropecuarias, Universidad de San Agustı́n, Avenida Carrión, Arequipa, Peru
Jay Quade
Affiliation:
Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, 85721

Abstract

Rodent (Abrocoma, Lagidium, Phyllotis) middens collected from 2350 to 2750 m elevation near Arequipa, Peru (16°S), provide an ∼9600-yr vegetation history of the northern Atacama Desert, based on identification of >50 species of plant macrofossils. These midden floras show considerable stability throughout the Holocene, with slightly more mesophytic plant assemblages in the middle Holocene. Unlike the southwestern United States, rodent middens of mid-Holocene age are common. In the Arequipa area, the midden record does not reflect any effects of a mid-Holocene mega drought proposed from the extreme lowstand (100 m below modern levels, >6000 to 3500 yr B.P.) of Lake Titicaca, only 200 km east of Arequipa. This is perhaps not surprising, given other evidence for wetter summers on the Pacific slope of the Andes during the middle Holocene as well as the poor correlation of summer rainfall among modern weather stations in the central Andes-Atacama Desert. The apparent difference in paleoclimatic reconstructions suggests that it is premature to relate changes observed during the Holocene to changes in El Niño Southern Oscillation modes.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
University of Washington

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