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Late Quaternary vegetation reconstruction from the Eastern Arc Mountains, Tanzania

  • C.T. Mumbi (a1) (a2), R. Marchant (a2), H. Hooghiemstra (a3) and M.J. Wooller (a4)

Pollen, spore, macrofossil and stable isotope (C and N) analyses from a 266-cm sediment core collected from a swamp on the Eastern Arc Mountains, Tanzania, are used to reconstruct vegetation and environmental history. An estimated time scale based on five14C ages records approximately 38,000 yr. This palaeorecord is the first from this biodiversity hotspot and importantly extends through the last glacial maximum (LGM). The altitudinal transition from montane to upper montane forest shifted from 1700–1800 m (38,00014C yr BP) to 1800–1900 m (35,000–29,00014C yr BP). From 29,000 to 10,00014C yr BP, it shifted from 1850–1950 m across the LGM to 1750–1800 m (during 10,000–350014C yr BP), and to present-day elevations at 2000 m during the last 350014C yr BP. The relative ecosystem stability across the LGM may be explained by the Indian Ocean's influence in maintaining continuous moist forest cover during a period of East African regional climate aridity. During the late Holocene, presence of abundant coprophilous fungi and algal blooms demonstrates increasing human impact.Neurospora spores indicate frequent fires, coinciding with clear signals of decline inPodocarpus and Psychotria trees that possibly represent selective logging.

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