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Vegetation and Seasonality Shifts during the Late Quaternary Deduced from 13C/12C Ratios of Grazers at Equus Cave, South Africa

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Julia A. Lee-Thorp
Affiliation:
Archaeometry Research Unit, Department of Archaeology, University of Cape Town, Private Bag, Rondebosch, 7700, South Africa
Peter B. Beaumont
Affiliation:
McGregor Museum, Box 316, Kimberley, 8300, South Africa

Abstract

Season of rainfall can be a major influence on the relative proportions of C3 and C4 grasses in a landscape, since their relative distribution is essentially constrained by temperatures during the growing season; cool growing seasons favor C3 grasses, whereas warm ones favor C4 grasses. 13C/12C ratios in tooth enamel carbonate of grazers from the site of Equus Cave, northern Cape Province, South Africa, were used to determine vegetation and rainfall seasonality shifts during the late Quaternary. The results show shifts in the relative proportion of C3 and C4 grasses during the latter stages of the Pleistocene, and domination by C4 grasses in the Holocene. The data show that the northwestern Cape did not fall within a winter rainfall zone during this period as has been postulated in recent climate models. Instead, a more complex situation is suggested in which at least two periods of enhanced winter rainfall occurred within a predominantly summer rainfall regime.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
University of Washington

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Vegetation and Seasonality Shifts during the Late Quaternary Deduced from 13C/12C Ratios of Grazers at Equus Cave, South Africa
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