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Holocene Tree Line and Climate Change on the Queen Charlotte Islands, Canada

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Marlow G. Pellatt
Affiliation:
Department of Biological Sciences and Institute of Quaternary Research, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, V5A 1S6, Canada
Rolf W. Mathewes
Affiliation:
Department of Biological Sciences and Institute of Quaternary Research, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, V5A 1S6, Canada

Abstract

Palynological study of two subalpine ponds on the Queen Charlotte Islands reveals changes in tree line and climate during the Holocene. The findings agree with previous reconstructions, from nearby Louise Pond on the Queen Charlotte Islands, that suggest a warmer-than-present climate and higher-than-present tree lines in the early Holocene (ca. 9600–6600 14C yr B.P.). Basal ages at SC1 Pond and Shangri-La Bog indicate that the basins did not hold permanent water before 7200 14C yr B.P., consistent with a warmer and drier early Holocene previously inferred from Louise Pond. Pollen and plant macrofossils indicate the initial establishment of subalpine conditions by 6090 ± 90 14C yr B.P., similar to the 5790 ± 130 14C yr B.P. age for cooling inferred from Louise Pond. Conditions similar to present were established at SC1 Pond by 3460 ± 100 14C yr B.P., confirming the previous estimate of 3400 14C yr B.P. at Louise Pond. This 3400 14C yr B.P. vegetation shift on the Queen Charlotte Islands corresponds with the beginning of the Tiedemann glacial advance in the south-coastal mountains of British Columbia (ca. 3300 14C yr B.P.), the Peyto and Robson glacial advances between 3300 and 2800 14C yr B.P. in the Rocky Mountains, and climatic cooling inferred from palynological studies throughout southern British Columbia, northern Washington, and southeast Alaska. These findings confirm that changes in regional climate influenced changes in vegetation in coastal British Columbia.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
University of Washington

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