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14C Dating and Stable Carbon Isotopes of Soil Organic Matter in Forest–Savanna Boundary Areas in the Southern Brazilian Amazon Region

  • L. C. R. Pessenda (a1), S. E. M. Gouveia (a1), Ramon Aravena (a2), B. M. Gomes (a3), Rene Boulet (a4) and A. S. Ribeiro (a5)...

Abstract

This study, which was carried out in the southern Brazilian Amazon region (Rondônia state and Humaitá, Southern Amazon state), presents and discusses the significance of carbon isotope data measured in soil profiles collected across natural boundaries of forest to savanna vegetation. The main objective of this study was to evaluate the expansion-regression dynamics of these vegetation units in relation to climate changes during the Holocene. 14C data from charcoal, soil organic matter (SOM) and its component humin fraction indicate that the organic matter in the studied soils is essentially Holocene in origin. 13C data indicate that C3 type plants were the dominant vegetation at all study areas in the early Holocene, and during the entire Holocene, in the forest sites of Central Rondônia state and in the forest site 50 km from the city of Humaitá. 13C data also indicate that C4 plants have influenced significantly the vegetation at the transitional forest and the Cerrado (wooded savanna) sites of Southern Rondônia state and the forest ecosystem located 20 km from the Humaitá city. These typical C4 type isotopic signatures probably reflect a drier climate during the mid-Holocene. The 13C records representing probably the last 3000 yr show an expansion of the forest, due to a climatic improvement, in areas previously occupied by savanna vegetation. These results and other published data for the Amazon region indicate that the areas representing today's forest-savanna boundaries have been determined by significant vegetation changes during the Holocene. The boundary between forest and savanna vegetation seems to be quite sensitive to climatic change and should be the focus of more extensive research to correlate climate and past vegetation dynamics in the Amazon region.

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References

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