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Postglacial vegetation history of Mitkof Island, Alexander Archipelago, southeastern Alaska

  • Thomas A. Ager (a1), Paul E. Carrara (a1), Jane L. Smith (a2), Victoria Anne (a2) and Joni Johnson (a2)...

Abstract

An AMS radiocarbon-dated pollen record from a peat deposit on Mitkof Island, southeastern Alaska provides a vegetation history spanning ∼12,900 cal yr BP to the present. Late Wisconsin glaciers covered the entire island; deglaciation occurred > 15,400 cal yr BP. The earliest known vegetation to develop on the island (∼12,900 cal yr BP) was pine woodland (Pinus contorta) with alder (Alnus), sedges (Cyperaceae) and ferns (Polypodiaceae type). By ∼12,240 cal yr BP, Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) began to colonize the island while pine woodland declined. By ∼11,200 cal yr BP, mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana) began to spread across the island. Sitka spruce-mountain hemlock forests dominated the lowland landscapes of the island until ∼10,180 cal yr BP, when western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) began to colonize, and soon became the dominant tree species. Rising percentages of pine, sedge, and sphagnum after ∼7100 cal yr BP may reflect an expansion of peat bog habitats as regional climate began to shift to cooler, wetter conditions. A decline in alders at that time suggests that coastal forests had spread into the island's uplands, replacing large areas of alder thickets. Cedars (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis, Thuja plicata) appeared on Mitkof Island during the late Holocene.

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*Corresponding author.E-mail address: tager@usgs.gov (T.A. Ager).

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1 Present address: U.S. Forest Service, Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest, 2150 Centre Street, Fort Collins, CO 80526-8119, USA.
2 Present address: Petersburg High School, P.O. Box 289, Petersburg, AK 99833, USA.

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References

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Postglacial vegetation history of Mitkof Island, Alexander Archipelago, southeastern Alaska

  • Thomas A. Ager (a1), Paul E. Carrara (a1), Jane L. Smith (a2), Victoria Anne (a2) and Joni Johnson (a2)...

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