THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN RETRACTED: What caused the mid-Holocene forest decline on the eastern Tibet-Qinghai Plateau?
Article first published online: 27 NOV 2009
© 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Global Ecology and Biogeography
Volume 19, Issue 2, pages 278–286, March 2010
How to Cite
Herzschuh, U., Birks, H. J. B., Liu, X., Kubatzki, C. and Lohmann, G. (2010), THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN RETRACTED: What caused the mid-Holocene forest decline on the eastern Tibet-Qinghai Plateau?. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 19: 278–286. doi: 10.1111/j.1466-8238.2009.00501.x
- Issue published online: 5 FEB 2010
- Article first published online: 27 NOV 2009
Vol. 20, Issue 2, 366, Article first published online: 17 DEC 2010
- Climate change;
- forest decline;
- general circulation models;
- human activity;
- oxygen isotopes;
- transfer functions;
- Tibet-Qinghai Plateau;
Aim Atmospheric CO2 concentrations depend, in part, on the amount of biomass locked up in terrestrial vegetation. Information on the causes of a broad-scale vegetation transition and associated loss of biomass is thus of critical interest for understanding global palaeoclimatic changes. Pollen records from the north-eastern Tibet-Qinghai Plateau reveal a dramatic and extensive forest decline beginning c. 6000 cal. yr bp. The aim of this study is to elucidate the causes of this regional-scale change from high-biomass forest to low-biomass steppe on the Tibet-Qinghai Plateau during the second half of the Holocene.
Location Our study focuses on the north-eastern Tibet-Qinghai Plateau. Stratigraphical data used are from Qinghai Lake (3200 m a.s.l., 36°32′–37°15′ N, 99°36′–100°47′ E).
Methods We apply a modern pollen-precipitation transfer function from the eastern and north-eastern Tibet-Qinghai Plateau to fossil pollen spectra from Qinghai Lake to reconstruct annual precipitation changes during the Holocene. The reconstructions are compared to a stable oxygen-isotope record from the same sediment core and to results from two transient climate model simulations.
Results The pollen-based precipitation reconstruction covering the Holocene parallels moisture changes inferred from the stable oxygen-isotope record. Furthermore, these results are in close agreement with simulated model-based past annual precipitation changes.
Main conclusions In the light of these data and the model results, we conclude that it is not necessary to attribute the broad-scale forest decline to human activity. Climate change as a result of changes in the intensity of the East Asian Summer Monsoon in the mid-Holocene is the most parsimonious explanation for the widespread forest decline on the Tibet-Qinghai Plateau. Moreover, climate feedback from a reduced forest cover accentuates increasingly drier conditions in the area, indicating complex vegetation–climate interactions during this major ecological change.