A Late Pleistocene record of climate and environmental change from the northern and southern Kelabit Highlands of Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo

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ABSTRACT

A late Pleistocene vegetation record is presented, using multi-proxy analysis from three palaeochannels in the northern (Bario) and southern (Pa'Dalih) Kelabit Highlands of Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo. Before 50 000 cal a BP and until ∼47 700 cal a BP [marine isotope stage 3 (MIS3)], two of the sites were probably being influenced by energetic fluvial deposition, possibly associated with strong seasonality. Fluvial activity declines between 47 700 and 30 000 cal a BP (MIS3), and may be associated with a reduction in seasonality with overall stability in precipitation. The pollen record between 47 700 and 30 000 cal a BP generally shows much higher representation of upper-montane taxa compared with the Holocene, indicating often significantly reduced temperatures. After 35 000–30 000 cal a BP and until the mid-Holocene, hiatuses appear in two of the records, which could be linked to fluvial down-cutting during the late/mid Holocene. Despite the jump in ages, a pronounced representation of Ericaceae and upper-montane taxa, represented both at Bario and at Pa'Dalih, corresponds to a further lowering of temperatures during the Last Glacial Maximum (MIS2). Thick charcoal bands in the PDH 210 record also suggest periods of extreme aridity between 30 200 and 12 700 cal a BP. This is followed by energetic fluvial deposition of sands and gravels, and may reflect a significant increase in seasonality.

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