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Late glacial and holocene landscapes of central Beringia

  • Anatoly V. Lozhkin (a1), Patricia Anderson (a2), Wendy R. Eisner (a3) and Tatiana B. Solomatkina (a1)
Abstract

New palynological and sedimentological data from St. Lawrence Island present a rare view into late-glacial and Holocene environments of the central Bering Land Bridge. The late glaciation was a time of dynamic landscape changes in south-central Beringia, with active thermokarst processes, including the formation and drainage of thaw lakes. The presence of such a wet, unstable substrate, if widespread, probably would have had an adverse impact on food sources and mobility for many of the large mammal populations. The establishment of Betula shrub tundra on the island suggests late-glacial summers that were warmer than present, consistent with regional paleoclimatic interpretations. However, the increasing proximity to the Bering Sea, as postglacial sea levels rose, modified the intensity of warming and prevented the establishment of deciduous forest as found in other areas of Beringia at this time. The mid- to late Holocene is marked by more stable land surfaces and development of Sphagnum and Cyperaceae peat deposits. The accumulation of organic deposits, decline of shrub Betula, and decrease in thermokarst disturbance suggest that conditions were cooler than the previous. A recent decline in peat accumulation at the study sites may relate to local geomorphology, but similar decreases have been noted for other arctic regions.

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Corresponding author
Corresponding author at: Earth & Space Sciences, Box 35-1310, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA. Fax: + 1 206 543 3836. E-mail address: pata@u.washington.edu (A.V. Lozhkin).
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