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Keywords:

  • Pollen data;
  • plant functional types;
  • biomes;
  • vegetation changes;
  • climate changes;
  • Alaska;
  • eastern Siberia;
  • mid-Holocene;
  • last glacial maximum

Abstract

The objective biomization method developed by Prentice et al. (1996) for Europe was extended using modern pollen samples from Beringia and then applied to fossil pollen data to reconstruct palaeovegetation patterns at 6000 and 18,000 14C yr bp.

The predicted modern distribution of tundra, taiga and cool conifer forests in Alaska and north-western Canada generally corresponds well to actual vegetation patterns, although sites in regions characterized today by a mosaic of forest and tundra vegetation tend to be preferentially assigned to tundra. Siberian larch forests are delimited less well, probably due to the extreme under-representation of Larix in pollen spectra.

The biome distribution across Beringia at 6000 14C yr bp was broadly similar to today, with little change in the northern forest limit, except for a possible northward advance in the Mackenzie delta region. The western forest limit in Alaska was probably east of its modern position.

At 18,000 14C yr bp the whole of Beringia was covered by tundra. However, the importance of the various plant functional types varied from site to site, supporting the idea that the vegetation cover was a mosaic of different tundra types.