Skip to main content Accessibility help

Paleoecology of central Kentucky since the last glacial maximum

  • Gary R. Wilkins (a1), Paul A. Delcourt (a1), Hazel R. Delcourt (a1), Frederick W. Harrison (a2) and Manson R. Turner (a2)...


Pollen grains and spores, plant macrofossils, and sponge spicules from a 7.2-m sediment core from Jackson Pond dating back to 20,000 yr B.P. are the basis for new interpretations of vegetational, limnological, and climatic changes in central Kentucky. During the full-glacial interval (20,400 to 16,800 yr B.P.) upland vegetation was closed spruce forest with jack pine as a subdominant. Aquatic macrophyte and sponge assemblages indicate that the site was a relatively deep, open pond with low organic productivity. During late-glacial time (16,800 to 11,300 yr B.P.) spruce populations continued to dominate while jack pine declined and sedge increased as the vegetation became a more open, taiga-like boreal woodland. Between 11,300 and 10,000 yr B.P., abundances of spruce and oak pollen oscillated reciprocally, possibly reflecting the Younger Dryas oscillation as boreal taxa underwent a series of declines and increases at the southern limit of their ranges before becoming extirpated and replaced by deciduous forest. In the early Holocene (10,000 to 7300 yr B.P.) a mesic deciduous woodland developed; it was replaced by xeric oak-hickory forest during the middle Holocene between 7300 and 3900 yr B.P. Grass increased after 3900 yr B.P., indicating that the presettlement vegetation mosaic of mixed deciduous forest and prairie (the “Kentucky Barrens”) became established in central Kentucky after the Hypsithermal interval. Sponge spicules increased in number during the Holocene, reflecting reduced water depths in the pond. Sediment infilling, as well as climatic warming and the expansion of fringing shrub thickets, increased nutrient and habitat availability for freshwater sponges.



Hide All
Baker, R. G. Rhodes, R. S. II Schwert, D. P. Ashworth, A. C. Frest, T. J. Hallberg, G. R. Janssens, J. A. A full-glacial biota from southeastern Iowa, USA. Journal of Quaternary Science 1 1986 91 107
Baskin, J. M. Baskin, C. C. The Big Barrens of Kentucky, not a part of Transeau's Prairie Peninsula. Ohio Biological Survey Biological Notes 15 1981 43 48
Birks, H. J. B. Numerical zonation, comparison, and correlation of Quaternary pollenstratigraphical data Berglund, B. E. Handbook of Holocene Palaeoecology and Palaeohydrology 1986 Wiley New York 743 774
Braun, E. L. Deciduous Forests of Eastern North America 1950 Hafner New York Reprinted 1974. Macmillan, New York
Brown, R. Hydrology of the cavernous limestones of the Mammoth Cave area Kentucky. United States Geological Survey Water Supply Paper 1837 1973 1 64
Bryant, W. S. The Big Clifty Prairie, a remnant outlier of the Prairie Peninsula, Grayson County, Kentucky. Transactions of the Kentucky Academy of Science 38 1977 21 25
Dean, W. E. Jr. Determination of carbonate and organic matter in calcareous sediments and sedimentary rocks by Loss-On-Ignition: Comparison with other methods. Journal of Sedimentary Petrology 44 1974 242 248
Delcourt, H. R. Late-Quaternary vegetation history of the eastern Highland Rim and adjacent Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee. Ecological Monographs 49 1979 255 280
Delcourt, H. R. Delcourt, P. A. Wilkins, G. R. Smith, E. N. Jr. Vegetational history of the cedar glades regions of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Missouri during the past 30,000 years. Association of Southeastern Biologists Bulletin 33 1986 128 137
Delcourt, P. A. Davis, O. K. Bright, R. C. Bibliography of Taxonomic Literature for the Identification of Fruits, Seeds, and Vegetative Plant Fragments 1979 Oak Ridge National Laboratory Oak Ridge, TN 1 84 ORNL/TM-6818
Delcourt, P. A. Delcourt, H. R. Vegetation maps for eastern North America: 40,000 yr B.P. to the present Romans, R. Geobotany II 1981 Plenum Press New York 123 166
Delcourt, P. A. Delcourt, H. R. Late-Quaternary paleoclimates and biotic responses across eastern North America and the northwestern Atlantic Ocean. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 48 1984 263 284
Delcourt, P. A. Delcourt, H. R. Long-term Forest Dynamics of the Temperate Zone: A Case Study of Late-Quaternary Forests in Eastern North America 1987 Springer-Verlag New York Ecological Studies Series 63
Faegri, K. Iversen, J. Textbook of Pollen Analysis 1975 McGraw-Hill New York
Harrison, F. W. Sponges (Porifera: Spongillidae) Hart, C. W. Jr. Fuller, S. L. H. Pollution Ecology of Freshwater Invertebrates 1974 Academic Press New York 29 66
Harrison, F. W. Freshwater sponges. Geoscience Canada 15 1988 193 198
Harrison, F. W. Utilization of freshwater sponges in paleolimnological studies. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 62 1988 387 397
Jacobson, G. L. Jr. Grimm, E. C. Synchrony of rapid change in late-glacial vegetation south of the Laurentide Ice Sheet Laub, R. S. Miller, N. G. Steadman, D. W. Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene Paleoecology and Archeology of the Eastern Great Lakes Region. Bulletin of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences 33 1988 31 38
Jacobson, G. L. Jr. Webb, T. III Grimm, E. C. Patterns and rates of vegetation change during the deglaciation of eastern North America Ruddiman, W. F. Wright, H. E. Jr. DNAG Volume K3: North America and Adjacent Oceans during the Last Deglaciation 1987 Geological Society of America Boulder, CO 277 288
Jillson, W. R. Filson's Kentucke—A Facsimile Reproduction of the Original Wilmington Edition of 1784 1930 John P. Morton and Co Louisville, KY
Larabee, P. A. Late-Quaternary Vegetational and Geomorphic History of the Allegheny Plateau at Big Run Bog, Tucker County, West Virginia. M.S. thesis 1986 Department of Geological Sciences, University of Tennessee Knoxville
Liu, Kam-Biu Holocene paleoecology of the boreal forest and Great Lakes-St. Lawrence forest in northern Ontario. Ecological Monographs 60 1990 179 212
Maher, L. J. Jr. The confidence limit is a necessary statistic for relative and absolute pollen data Proceedings of the Fourth International Palynological Conference Lucknow, India 1977 1 20
McDowell, R. C. Grabowski, G. J. Jr. Moore, S. L. Geologic Map of Kentucky 1981 United States Geological Survey
McFarlan, A. C. Geology of Kentucky 1943 Lexington, KY
Mills, H. H., and Delcourt, P. A. (in press). Chapter 15: Appalachian Highlands and Interior Low Plateaus. In “DNAG Volume K2: Quaternary Nonglacial Geology of the Conterminous United States” (Morrison, R., Ed.). Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO.
Moore, F. B. Geologic map of the Magnolia Quadrangle, Central Kentucky 1975 United States Geological Survey
Munsell Soil Color Charts 1975 Munsell, Color, MacBeth Division, Kollmorgen Corp Baltimore, MD Munsell Color
Royall, P. D. Delcourt, P. A. Delcourt, H. R. Late-Quaternary paleoecology and paleoenvironments of the Central Mississippi Alluvial Valley. Geological Society of America Bulletin 103 1991 157 170
Shane, L. C. K. Late-glacial vegetational and climatic history of the Allegheny Plateau and the Till Plains of Ohio and Indiana, U.S.A.. Boreas 16 1987 1 20
Stuckey, R. L. Origin and development of the concept of the Prairie Peninsula. Ohio Biological Survey Biological Notes 15 1981 4 23
Transeau, E. N. The prairie peninsula. Ecology 16 1935 423 437
Watts, W. A. Late Quaternary vegetation of central Appalachia and the New Jersey coastal plain. Ecological Monographs 49 1979 427 469
Watts, W. A. Vegetational history of the eastern United States 25,000 to 10,000 years ago Porter, S. C. Late-Quaternary Environments of the United States Vol. 1 1983 Univ. of Minnesota Press Minneapolis 294 310 the Late Pleistocene
Webb, T. III Kutzbach, J. E. Climatic change in eastern North America during the past 18,000 years: Comparisons of pollen data with model results Ruddiman, W. F. Wright, H. E. Jr. North America and Adjacent Oceans during the Last Deglaciation Vol. K3 1987 Geological Society of America Boulder, CO 447 462
Wilkins, G. R. Late-Quaternary Vegetational History at Jackson Pond, Larue County, Kentucky. M.S. thesis 1985 Department of Geological Sciences, University of Tennessee Knoxville
Whitehead, D. R. Fossil pine pollen and fullglacial vegetation in southeastern North Carolina. Ecology 46 1964 767 777
Whitehead, D. R. Jackson, S. T. Sheehan, M. C. Leyden, B. W. Late-glacial vegetation associated with caribou and mastodon in central Indiana. Quaternary Research 17 1982 241 257
Wright, H. E. Jr. A square-rod piston sampler for lake sediments. Journal of Sedimentary Petrology 37 1967 975 976
Wright, H. E. Jr. History of the Prairie Peninsula Bergstrom, R. E. The Quaternary of Illinois 1968 University of Illinois Urbana 78 88
Wright, H. E. Jr. Vegetation east of the Rocky Mountains 18,000 years ago. Quaternary Research 15 1981 113 125
Wright, H. E. Jr. The amphi-Atlantic distribution of the Younger Dryas paleoclimatic oscillation. Quaternary Science Reviews 8 1989 295 306


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed