A record of Lateglacial/Holocene environmental change from a high-elevation site in the Intermountain West, USA



Records of past vegetation and fire history can be complicated by changes in the depositional environment of a sampling location. However, these changes can alternatively be used as a measure of climate variability. Our study site, ca. 18.0 cal. ka BP record from Little Brooklyn Lake, Wyoming, located near the crest of the Snowy Range, records three moisture states. Initially, the lake was likely a glacier-fed pond indicated by the presence of Pediastrum algae colonies. Around 13.0 cal. ka BP this pond transitioned to a meadow environment, suggested by the loss of Pediastrum algae colonies and slow sedimentation rates. Meadow conditions were maintained until ca. 5.0 cal. ka BP when Pediastrum algae colony abundance increased,indicating the formation of a shallow lake. From 18.0 to ca. 5.0 cal. ka BP, the pollen record is suggestive of alpine vegetation conditions with relatively high spruce and herbaceous taxa. Low charcoal influx also characterizes the period between 18.0 and 5.0 cal. ka BP. After 5.0 cal. ka BP, the coincidence of the formation of shallow lake and pollen data, indicating a shift to a spruce and fir forest, suggests an increase in effective moisture. Fire remained rare in this basin over the entire record, however, once the lake established sedimentation rates and charcoal influx increased. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.