Patterns and drivers of Holocene vegetational change near the prairie-forest ecotone in Minnesota: Revisiting McAndrews' transect

David M. Nelson, Feng Sheng Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

• Holocene vegetational dynamics along the prairie-forest border of Minnesota were first documented in McAndrews' classic work. Despite numerous subsequent paleo-studies, a number of questions remain unanswered about the vegetation history of the region. Here, pollen, stable-isotope, mineral, and charcoal data are described from three lakes near McAndrews' sites. These data were compared with other paleoenvironmental records to reconstruct vegetation, aridity, and fire. • The climate was relatively wet with increasing summer temperatures before ∼8000 yr before present (BP). The rates of changes were asymmetric for the onset and termination of middle-Holocene aridity, with an abrupt increase at ∼8000 yr BP and a gradual, but variable, decline from ∼7800 to 4000 yr BP. • Early-Holocene coniferous forests changed to mixed-grass prairie without an intervening period of tallgrass prairie or deciduous forest, whereas the retreat of prairie was characterized by transitions from mixed-grass to tallgrass prairie to deciduous forest and finally to coniferous forest. Within the middle Holocene, the composition and structures of grass-dominated vegetation varied both temporally and spatially. • Fire primarily responded to changes in climate and fuel loads. Vegetation was more strongly influenced by climatic changes than by fire-regime shifts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)449-459
Number of pages11
JournalNew Phytologist
Volume179
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2008

Keywords

  • Climate
  • Fire
  • Holocene
  • McAndrews' transect
  • Minnesota
  • Pollen
  • Prairie-forest border

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science

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