A high resolution 15,600-year pollen and microcharcoal record from the Cederberg Mountains, South Africa

Verushka Valsecchi, Brian M. Chase, Jasper A. Slingsby, Andrew S. Carr, Lynne J. Quick, Michael E. Meadows, Rachid Cheddadi, Paula J. Reimer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The Cederberg Mountains (Western Cape Province, South Africa) are located within the Fynbos Biome, which exhibits some of the highest levels of species richness and endemism in the world. The region's post-glacial vegetation history, however, remains largely unknown. Presented here are high resolution pollen and microcharcoal records spanning the last 15,600 years obtained from the De Rif rock hyrax midden from the Driehoek Valley of the central Cederberg. In this region, previous pollen studies have shown muted variability in vegetation community composition during periods of globally marked climatic variability (e.g. the last glacial-interglacial transition). In our record, however, significant changes in vegetation composition are apparent. Most notably, they indicate a shift from ericaceous/restioid fynbos (present from 15,600 to 13,300 cal yr BP) to a brief, but prominent, development of proteoid fynbos at the beginning of the Holocene around 11,200 cal yr BP. This vegetation shift is associated with increased moisture at the site, and coincides with reduced fire frequency as indicated by the microcharcoal record. At 10,400 cal yr BP, there is a marked reduction in Protea-type pollen, which is replaced by thicket, characterised by Dodonaea, which became the dominant arboreal pollen type. This shift was likely the result of a long relatively fire-free period coupled with warmer and wetter climates spanning much of the early Holocene. A brief but marked decrease in water availability around 8500-8000 cal yr BP resulted in the strong decrease of Dodonaea pollen. The vegetation of the mid- to late Holocene is characterised by the increased occurrence of Asteraceae and succulent taxa, suggesting substantially drier conditions. These data give unprecedented insight into the vegetation dynamics across a period of substantial, rapid climate change, and while they confirm the presence of fynbos elements throughout the last 15,600 years, the results highlight significant fluctuations in the vegetation that were triggered by changes in both climate and fire regimes. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

LanguageEnglish
Pages6-16
JournalPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
Volume387
Early online date15 Jul 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Oct 2013

Keywords

  • Pollen
  • Microcharcoal
  • Rock hyrax middens
  • Late Quaternary
  • Fynbos Biome
  • South Africa
  • RADIOCARBON AGE CALIBRATION
  • FECAL DEPOSITS HYRACEUM
  • CAPE FLORISTIC REGION
  • WINTER RAINFALL ZONE
  • CAL KYR BP
  • VEGETATION HISTORY
  • WESTERN-CAPE
  • FIRE MANAGEMENT
  • HYRAX MIDDENS
  • FYNBOS BIOME

Cite this

Valsecchi, Verushka ; Chase, Brian M. ; Slingsby, Jasper A. ; Carr, Andrew S. ; Quick, Lynne J. ; Meadows, Michael E. ; Cheddadi, Rachid ; Reimer, Paula J. / A high resolution 15,600-year pollen and microcharcoal record from the Cederberg Mountains, South Africa. In: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 2013 ; Vol. 387. pp. 6-16.
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A high resolution 15,600-year pollen and microcharcoal record from the Cederberg Mountains, South Africa. / Valsecchi, Verushka; Chase, Brian M.; Slingsby, Jasper A.; Carr, Andrew S.; Quick, Lynne J.; Meadows, Michael E.; Cheddadi, Rachid; Reimer, Paula J.

In: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, Vol. 387, 01.10.2013, p. 6-16.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - A high resolution 15,600-year pollen and microcharcoal record from the Cederberg Mountains, South Africa

AU - Valsecchi, Verushka

AU - Chase, Brian M.

AU - Slingsby, Jasper A.

AU - Carr, Andrew S.

AU - Quick, Lynne J.

AU - Meadows, Michael E.

AU - Cheddadi, Rachid

AU - Reimer, Paula J.

PY - 2013/10/1

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N2 - The Cederberg Mountains (Western Cape Province, South Africa) are located within the Fynbos Biome, which exhibits some of the highest levels of species richness and endemism in the world. The region's post-glacial vegetation history, however, remains largely unknown. Presented here are high resolution pollen and microcharcoal records spanning the last 15,600 years obtained from the De Rif rock hyrax midden from the Driehoek Valley of the central Cederberg. In this region, previous pollen studies have shown muted variability in vegetation community composition during periods of globally marked climatic variability (e.g. the last glacial-interglacial transition). In our record, however, significant changes in vegetation composition are apparent. Most notably, they indicate a shift from ericaceous/restioid fynbos (present from 15,600 to 13,300 cal yr BP) to a brief, but prominent, development of proteoid fynbos at the beginning of the Holocene around 11,200 cal yr BP. This vegetation shift is associated with increased moisture at the site, and coincides with reduced fire frequency as indicated by the microcharcoal record. At 10,400 cal yr BP, there is a marked reduction in Protea-type pollen, which is replaced by thicket, characterised by Dodonaea, which became the dominant arboreal pollen type. This shift was likely the result of a long relatively fire-free period coupled with warmer and wetter climates spanning much of the early Holocene. A brief but marked decrease in water availability around 8500-8000 cal yr BP resulted in the strong decrease of Dodonaea pollen. The vegetation of the mid- to late Holocene is characterised by the increased occurrence of Asteraceae and succulent taxa, suggesting substantially drier conditions. These data give unprecedented insight into the vegetation dynamics across a period of substantial, rapid climate change, and while they confirm the presence of fynbos elements throughout the last 15,600 years, the results highlight significant fluctuations in the vegetation that were triggered by changes in both climate and fire regimes. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

AB - The Cederberg Mountains (Western Cape Province, South Africa) are located within the Fynbos Biome, which exhibits some of the highest levels of species richness and endemism in the world. The region's post-glacial vegetation history, however, remains largely unknown. Presented here are high resolution pollen and microcharcoal records spanning the last 15,600 years obtained from the De Rif rock hyrax midden from the Driehoek Valley of the central Cederberg. In this region, previous pollen studies have shown muted variability in vegetation community composition during periods of globally marked climatic variability (e.g. the last glacial-interglacial transition). In our record, however, significant changes in vegetation composition are apparent. Most notably, they indicate a shift from ericaceous/restioid fynbos (present from 15,600 to 13,300 cal yr BP) to a brief, but prominent, development of proteoid fynbos at the beginning of the Holocene around 11,200 cal yr BP. This vegetation shift is associated with increased moisture at the site, and coincides with reduced fire frequency as indicated by the microcharcoal record. At 10,400 cal yr BP, there is a marked reduction in Protea-type pollen, which is replaced by thicket, characterised by Dodonaea, which became the dominant arboreal pollen type. This shift was likely the result of a long relatively fire-free period coupled with warmer and wetter climates spanning much of the early Holocene. A brief but marked decrease in water availability around 8500-8000 cal yr BP resulted in the strong decrease of Dodonaea pollen. The vegetation of the mid- to late Holocene is characterised by the increased occurrence of Asteraceae and succulent taxa, suggesting substantially drier conditions. These data give unprecedented insight into the vegetation dynamics across a period of substantial, rapid climate change, and while they confirm the presence of fynbos elements throughout the last 15,600 years, the results highlight significant fluctuations in the vegetation that were triggered by changes in both climate and fire regimes. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

KW - Pollen

KW - Microcharcoal

KW - Rock hyrax middens

KW - Late Quaternary

KW - Fynbos Biome

KW - South Africa

KW - RADIOCARBON AGE CALIBRATION

KW - FECAL DEPOSITS HYRACEUM

KW - CAPE FLORISTIC REGION

KW - WINTER RAINFALL ZONE

KW - CAL KYR BP

KW - VEGETATION HISTORY

KW - WESTERN-CAPE

KW - FIRE MANAGEMENT

KW - HYRAX MIDDENS

KW - FYNBOS BIOME

U2 - 10.1016/j.palaeo.2013.07.009

DO - 10.1016/j.palaeo.2013.07.009

M3 - Article

VL - 387

SP - 6

EP - 16

JO - Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology

T2 - Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology

JF - Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology

SN - 0031-0182

ER -