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Forest-savanna-morichal dynamics in relation to fire and human occupation in the southern Gran Sabana (SE Venezuela) during the last millennia

Forest-savanna-morichal dynamics in relation to fire and human occupation in the southern Gran Sabana (SE Venezuela) during the last millennia
Forest-savanna-morichal dynamics in relation to fire and human occupation in the southern Gran Sabana (SE Venezuela) during the last millennia

The southern Gran Sabana (SE Venezuela) holds a particular type of neotropical savanna characterized by the local occurrence of morichales (Mauritia palm swamps). , in a climate apparently more suitable for rain forests. We present a paleoecological analysis of the last millennia of Lake Chonita (4°39'N-61°0'W, 884. m elevation), based on biological and physico-chemical proxies. Savannas dominated the region during the last millennia, but a significant vegetation replacement occurred in recent times. The site was covered by a treeless savanna with nearby rainforests from 3640 to 2180. cal yr BP. Water levels were higher than today until about 2800. cal yr BP. Forests retreated since about 2180. cal yr BP onwards, likely influenced by a higher fire incidence that facilitated a dramatic expansion of morichales. The simultaneous appearance of charcoal particles and Mauritia pollen around 2000. cal yr BP supports the potential pyrophilous nature of this palm and the importance of fire for its recent expansion. The whole picture suggests human settlements similar to today - in which fire is an essential element - since around 2000. yr ago. Therefore, present-day southern Gran Sabana landscapes seem to have been the result of the synergy between biogeographical, climatic and anthropogenic factors, mostly fire.

Charcoal, Fire, Gran Sabana, Human occupation, Last millennia, Mauritia, Neotropics, Paleoecology, Vegetation change
0033-5894
335-344
Montoya, Encarni
7f93c60f-cc9c-4c5f-bb43-e42a38872e8e
Rull, Valentí
afd31aba-0540-4788-abea-f5f9e3ec3021
Stansell, Nathan D.
8ed1c662-7ce3-4b24-9b2c-1143c217fc49
Abbott, Mark B.
3cc55c60-688c-4438-86af-896856f75e07
Nogué, Sandra
5b464cff-a158-481f-8b7f-647c93d7a034
Bird, Broxton W.
917f1f0a-764f-4edb-af06-74c3692711a4
Díaz, Wilmer A.
7363a624-f9ba-4c9d-bedd-e89cadf8f973
Montoya, Encarni
7f93c60f-cc9c-4c5f-bb43-e42a38872e8e
Rull, Valentí
afd31aba-0540-4788-abea-f5f9e3ec3021
Stansell, Nathan D.
8ed1c662-7ce3-4b24-9b2c-1143c217fc49
Abbott, Mark B.
3cc55c60-688c-4438-86af-896856f75e07
Nogué, Sandra
5b464cff-a158-481f-8b7f-647c93d7a034
Bird, Broxton W.
917f1f0a-764f-4edb-af06-74c3692711a4
Díaz, Wilmer A.
7363a624-f9ba-4c9d-bedd-e89cadf8f973

Montoya, Encarni, Rull, Valentí, Stansell, Nathan D., Abbott, Mark B., Nogué, Sandra, Bird, Broxton W. and Díaz, Wilmer A. (2011) Forest-savanna-morichal dynamics in relation to fire and human occupation in the southern Gran Sabana (SE Venezuela) during the last millennia. Quaternary Research, 76 (3), 335-344. (doi:10.1016/j.yqres.2011.06.014).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The southern Gran Sabana (SE Venezuela) holds a particular type of neotropical savanna characterized by the local occurrence of morichales (Mauritia palm swamps). , in a climate apparently more suitable for rain forests. We present a paleoecological analysis of the last millennia of Lake Chonita (4°39'N-61°0'W, 884. m elevation), based on biological and physico-chemical proxies. Savannas dominated the region during the last millennia, but a significant vegetation replacement occurred in recent times. The site was covered by a treeless savanna with nearby rainforests from 3640 to 2180. cal yr BP. Water levels were higher than today until about 2800. cal yr BP. Forests retreated since about 2180. cal yr BP onwards, likely influenced by a higher fire incidence that facilitated a dramatic expansion of morichales. The simultaneous appearance of charcoal particles and Mauritia pollen around 2000. cal yr BP supports the potential pyrophilous nature of this palm and the importance of fire for its recent expansion. The whole picture suggests human settlements similar to today - in which fire is an essential element - since around 2000. yr ago. Therefore, present-day southern Gran Sabana landscapes seem to have been the result of the synergy between biogeographical, climatic and anthropogenic factors, mostly fire.

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More information

Published date: 1 November 2011
Keywords: Charcoal, Fire, Gran Sabana, Human occupation, Last millennia, Mauritia, Neotropics, Paleoecology, Vegetation change

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 445895
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/445895
ISSN: 0033-5894
PURE UUID: f1a32f73-c006-4501-9ca4-e3878fd93371
ORCID for Sandra Nogué: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-0093-4252

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 13 Jan 2021 17:31
Last modified: 18 Feb 2021 17:25

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Contributors

Author: Encarni Montoya
Author: Valentí Rull
Author: Nathan D. Stansell
Author: Mark B. Abbott
Author: Sandra Nogué ORCID iD
Author: Broxton W. Bird
Author: Wilmer A. Díaz

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