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Last glacial vegetation of northern Eurasia

Allen, J. R.M., Hickler, T., Singarayer, J. S., Sykes, M. T., Valdes, P. J. and Huntley, B. (2010) Last glacial vegetation of northern Eurasia. Quaternary Science Reviews, 29 (19-20). pp. 2604-2618. ISSN 0277-3791 (Special Theme: Case Studies of Neodymium Isotopes in Paleoceanography)

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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2010.05.031


In order to investigate the potential role of vegetation changes in megafaunal extinctions during the later part of the last glacial stage and early Holocene (42–10 ka BP), the palaeovegetation of northern Eurasia and Alaska was simulated using the LPJ-GUESS dynamic vegetation model. Palaeoclimatic driving data were derived from simulations made for 22 time slices using the Hadley Centre Unified Model. Modelled annual net primary productivity (aNPP) of a series of plant functional types (PFTs) is mapped for selected time slices and summarised for major geographical regions for all time slices. Strong canonical correlations are demonstrated between model outputs and pollen data compiled for the same period and region. Simulated aNPP values, especially for tree PFTs and for a mesophilous herb PFT, provide evidence of the structure and productivity of last glacial vegetation. The mesophilous herb PFT aNPP is higher in many areas during the glacial than at present or during the early Holocene. Glacial stage vegetation, whilst open and largely treeless in much of Europe, thus had a higher capacity to support large vertebrate herbivore populations than did early Holocene vegetation. A marked and rapid decrease in aNPP of mesophilous herbs began shortly after the Last Glacial Maximum, especially in western Eurasia. This is likely implicated in extinction of several large herbivorous mammals during the latter part of the glacial stage and the transition to the Holocene.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:34560

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