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Relationship Between Climate and Vegetation and the Stable Carbon Isotope Chemistry of Soils in the Eastern Mojave Desert, Nevada

  • Ronald G. Amundson (a1), Oliver A. Chadwick (a1), Janet M. Sowers (a2) and Harvey E. Doner (a1)
Abstract

The relationship between the stable C-isotope composition of the soil environment and modern climate and vegetation was determined empirically along a present-day climatic transect in the eastern Mojave Desert. The δ13C of the soil CO2 and carbonates decreased with increasing elevation and plant density, even though plant assemblages at all elevations were isotopically similar. Several factors, including differences in the ratios of pedogenic of limestone calcite and differences in past vegetation, were considered as explanations of this trend, However, it appears that in the sparsely vegetated Mojave Desert, the δ13C of pedogenic carbonate is controlled by differences in plant density and biological activity. This relationship may provide a tool for assessing past vegetational densities, as long as the vegetation is isotopically homogeneous.

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Quaternary Research
  • ISSN: 0033-5894
  • EISSN: 1096-0287
  • URL: /core/journals/quaternary-research
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