Vegetation history and paleoclimates of the coastal lowlands of Sonora, Mexico - pollen records from packrat middens

Scott R Anderson, Thomas R. Van Devender

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations


Fossil pollen from packrat (Neotoma sp.) middens indicate that elements of the modern Sonoran Desert, such as Bursera microphylla (elephant tree), have been established within the Sierra Bacha of Sonora, Mexico, for the last 10,000 years. However, Fouquieria columnaris (boojum tree) grew on xeric east-facing slopes prior to c. 9000 years ago, indicating locally stronger upwelling or greater effective precipitation over modern conditions. Nearmodern environments were established sometime prior to c. 5400 years ago. The lack of correspondence between pollen-based vegetation reconstructions from middens and nearby marine sediment cores probably reflects different source areas for the pollen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-306
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1995



  • packrat middens
  • paleoclimates
  • plant macrofossils
  • pollen
  • Sonora
  • Sonoran desert

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Ecology

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