Development of vegetation in the Central Mojave Desert of California during the late Quaternary

Peter A. Koehler, Scott R Anderson, W. Geoffrey Spaulding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

41 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Vegetation analysis of 47 Neotoma (packrat) middens from the core of the central Mojave Desert of California reveal changes in desert plant community composition over the last ca. 24,000 years BP, one of the lowest and most arid locations in North America. Habitat currently dominated by Mojave Desert Larrea tridentata (creosote bush) was occupied prior to ca. 11,500 years BP by Pinus monophylla (piñon), Juniperus osteosperma (Utah juniper), Purshia mexicana (bitterbush), Cercocarpus ledifolius (mountain mahogany), and Prunus fasciculata (desert almond) woodland above 1000 m. P. monophylla-Juniperus woodland was widespread over the southern and central Mojave Desert. However, less than 150 km north of the central Mojave, J. osteosperma steppe dominated the landscape. Paleoecologic records spanning latitude 35°N ca. 37°N document a biogeographic boundary between milder, moister environments to the south and the colder, drier environments to the north. At elevations <1000 m desert scrub species of Lycium cooperi (wolfberry), Salvia mojavensis (Mojave sage) and the mesophytic Prosopis juliflora (mesquite) occurred near the shore of pluvial Lake Mojave from ca. 8810 to 8430 years BP. Larrea is not recorded on the xeric carbonate substrates (605 m) until ca. 6990 years BP, then took over 2000 years to dominate the regional landscape. Modern vegetation associates such as Thamnosma montana (desert rue) and Atriplex confertifolia (shadscale) were established by ca. 4500 years BP. Late Holocene vegetation changes document Neoglacial cooling and wetter conditions than today between ca. 3490 and 2640 years BP, paralleling the regional pluvial lake highstands and marsh deposit records. Decreases of mesophytic Mojave Desert associates in the Granite Mountains suggest climates similar to today's aridity between ca. 1970 and 1440 years BP. Mesophytic species increase in middens dating between ca. 1390 and 700 years BP at higher elevation sites; during the same time Prosopis occurs at lower elevation sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-311
Number of pages15
JournalPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
Volume215
Issue number3-4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 6 2005

Fingerprint

Mojave Desert
Juniperus osteosperma
Pinus monophylla
desert
Larrea tridentata
deserts
Prosopis
vegetation
dry environmental conditions
Purshia mexicana
Cercocarpus ledifolius
Atriplex confertifolia
woodlands
Larrea
Lycium
mountains
Ruta graveolens
Neotoma
Prosopis juliflora
midden

Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Death Valley
  • Holocene
  • Larrea tridentata (creosote bush)
  • Mojave desert
  • Packrat middens
  • Paleoecology
  • Pinus monophylla (piñon)
  • Quaternary
  • Vegetation change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Palaeontology

Cite this

Development of vegetation in the Central Mojave Desert of California during the late Quaternary. / Koehler, Peter A.; Anderson, Scott R; Spaulding, W. Geoffrey.

In: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, Vol. 215, No. 3-4, 06.01.2005, p. 297-311.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{8cc481e48efd45b898c63564f809fc5c,
title = "Development of vegetation in the Central Mojave Desert of California during the late Quaternary",
abstract = "Vegetation analysis of 47 Neotoma (packrat) middens from the core of the central Mojave Desert of California reveal changes in desert plant community composition over the last ca. 24,000 years BP, one of the lowest and most arid locations in North America. Habitat currently dominated by Mojave Desert Larrea tridentata (creosote bush) was occupied prior to ca. 11,500 years BP by Pinus monophylla (pi{\~n}on), Juniperus osteosperma (Utah juniper), Purshia mexicana (bitterbush), Cercocarpus ledifolius (mountain mahogany), and Prunus fasciculata (desert almond) woodland above 1000 m. P. monophylla-Juniperus woodland was widespread over the southern and central Mojave Desert. However, less than 150 km north of the central Mojave, J. osteosperma steppe dominated the landscape. Paleoecologic records spanning latitude 35°N ca. 37°N document a biogeographic boundary between milder, moister environments to the south and the colder, drier environments to the north. At elevations <1000 m desert scrub species of Lycium cooperi (wolfberry), Salvia mojavensis (Mojave sage) and the mesophytic Prosopis juliflora (mesquite) occurred near the shore of pluvial Lake Mojave from ca. 8810 to 8430 years BP. Larrea is not recorded on the xeric carbonate substrates (605 m) until ca. 6990 years BP, then took over 2000 years to dominate the regional landscape. Modern vegetation associates such as Thamnosma montana (desert rue) and Atriplex confertifolia (shadscale) were established by ca. 4500 years BP. Late Holocene vegetation changes document Neoglacial cooling and wetter conditions than today between ca. 3490 and 2640 years BP, paralleling the regional pluvial lake highstands and marsh deposit records. Decreases of mesophytic Mojave Desert associates in the Granite Mountains suggest climates similar to today's aridity between ca. 1970 and 1440 years BP. Mesophytic species increase in middens dating between ca. 1390 and 700 years BP at higher elevation sites; during the same time Prosopis occurs at lower elevation sites.",
keywords = "Climate change, Death Valley, Holocene, Larrea tridentata (creosote bush), Mojave desert, Packrat middens, Paleoecology, Pinus monophylla (pi{\~n}on), Quaternary, Vegetation change",
author = "Koehler, {Peter A.} and Anderson, {Scott R} and Spaulding, {W. Geoffrey}",
year = "2005",
month = "1",
day = "6",
doi = "10.1016/j.palaeo.2004.09.010",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "215",
pages = "297--311",
journal = "Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology",
issn = "0031-0182",
publisher = "Elsevier",
number = "3-4",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Development of vegetation in the Central Mojave Desert of California during the late Quaternary

AU - Koehler, Peter A.

AU - Anderson, Scott R

AU - Spaulding, W. Geoffrey

PY - 2005/1/6

Y1 - 2005/1/6

N2 - Vegetation analysis of 47 Neotoma (packrat) middens from the core of the central Mojave Desert of California reveal changes in desert plant community composition over the last ca. 24,000 years BP, one of the lowest and most arid locations in North America. Habitat currently dominated by Mojave Desert Larrea tridentata (creosote bush) was occupied prior to ca. 11,500 years BP by Pinus monophylla (piñon), Juniperus osteosperma (Utah juniper), Purshia mexicana (bitterbush), Cercocarpus ledifolius (mountain mahogany), and Prunus fasciculata (desert almond) woodland above 1000 m. P. monophylla-Juniperus woodland was widespread over the southern and central Mojave Desert. However, less than 150 km north of the central Mojave, J. osteosperma steppe dominated the landscape. Paleoecologic records spanning latitude 35°N ca. 37°N document a biogeographic boundary between milder, moister environments to the south and the colder, drier environments to the north. At elevations <1000 m desert scrub species of Lycium cooperi (wolfberry), Salvia mojavensis (Mojave sage) and the mesophytic Prosopis juliflora (mesquite) occurred near the shore of pluvial Lake Mojave from ca. 8810 to 8430 years BP. Larrea is not recorded on the xeric carbonate substrates (605 m) until ca. 6990 years BP, then took over 2000 years to dominate the regional landscape. Modern vegetation associates such as Thamnosma montana (desert rue) and Atriplex confertifolia (shadscale) were established by ca. 4500 years BP. Late Holocene vegetation changes document Neoglacial cooling and wetter conditions than today between ca. 3490 and 2640 years BP, paralleling the regional pluvial lake highstands and marsh deposit records. Decreases of mesophytic Mojave Desert associates in the Granite Mountains suggest climates similar to today's aridity between ca. 1970 and 1440 years BP. Mesophytic species increase in middens dating between ca. 1390 and 700 years BP at higher elevation sites; during the same time Prosopis occurs at lower elevation sites.

AB - Vegetation analysis of 47 Neotoma (packrat) middens from the core of the central Mojave Desert of California reveal changes in desert plant community composition over the last ca. 24,000 years BP, one of the lowest and most arid locations in North America. Habitat currently dominated by Mojave Desert Larrea tridentata (creosote bush) was occupied prior to ca. 11,500 years BP by Pinus monophylla (piñon), Juniperus osteosperma (Utah juniper), Purshia mexicana (bitterbush), Cercocarpus ledifolius (mountain mahogany), and Prunus fasciculata (desert almond) woodland above 1000 m. P. monophylla-Juniperus woodland was widespread over the southern and central Mojave Desert. However, less than 150 km north of the central Mojave, J. osteosperma steppe dominated the landscape. Paleoecologic records spanning latitude 35°N ca. 37°N document a biogeographic boundary between milder, moister environments to the south and the colder, drier environments to the north. At elevations <1000 m desert scrub species of Lycium cooperi (wolfberry), Salvia mojavensis (Mojave sage) and the mesophytic Prosopis juliflora (mesquite) occurred near the shore of pluvial Lake Mojave from ca. 8810 to 8430 years BP. Larrea is not recorded on the xeric carbonate substrates (605 m) until ca. 6990 years BP, then took over 2000 years to dominate the regional landscape. Modern vegetation associates such as Thamnosma montana (desert rue) and Atriplex confertifolia (shadscale) were established by ca. 4500 years BP. Late Holocene vegetation changes document Neoglacial cooling and wetter conditions than today between ca. 3490 and 2640 years BP, paralleling the regional pluvial lake highstands and marsh deposit records. Decreases of mesophytic Mojave Desert associates in the Granite Mountains suggest climates similar to today's aridity between ca. 1970 and 1440 years BP. Mesophytic species increase in middens dating between ca. 1390 and 700 years BP at higher elevation sites; during the same time Prosopis occurs at lower elevation sites.

KW - Climate change

KW - Death Valley

KW - Holocene

KW - Larrea tridentata (creosote bush)

KW - Mojave desert

KW - Packrat middens

KW - Paleoecology

KW - Pinus monophylla (piñon)

KW - Quaternary

KW - Vegetation change

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=10344264496&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=10344264496&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.palaeo.2004.09.010

DO - 10.1016/j.palaeo.2004.09.010

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:10344264496

VL - 215

SP - 297

EP - 311

JO - Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology

JF - Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology

SN - 0031-0182

IS - 3-4

ER -