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  • Print publication year: 2016
  • Online publication date: June 2016

17 - Terrestrial ecosystem changes in the late Quaternary

Summary

Abstract

This chapter provides a perspective on vegetation changes (as a proxy for overall terrestrial ecosystem changes) within southern Africa’s summer and winter rainfall zones. While climate is a major determinant on southern African ecosystems, topography, geology and fire also play critical roles in ecosystem pattern and processes. Late Quaternary climate changes impacted on southern African ecosystems but did not result in wholesale migration of these biomes. Instead, the palaeoenvironmental record reveals that community dynamics within biomes or at their ecotonal boundaries changed as individual species were favoured or disadvantaged by changing conditions (e.g. climate, fire regimes and/or human impacts) over time.

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