Development of a temperate rainforest zonation on the Pacific slopes of the North Patagonian Andes since ~18 ka

Moreno Patricio I.; Alloway, Brent V.; Valenzuela, Marcela; Villacis, Leonardo A.; Villa-Martínez, Rodrigo P.


Few studies along the western slopes of the Andes in Northwestern Patagonia (NWP: 40°-44°S) allow examining vegetation development through environmental gradients in latitude and elevation along a time continuum since the Last Glacial Termination (T1, ∼18-11 ka). This complete biostratigraphic context is necessary for assessing the sequence, timing, rates, and direction of compositional/structural changes of the former vegetation, and for deciphering their environmental drivers. Here we report palynological results from two NWP sites spaced ∼22 km apart on the western Andean slopes, Caleta Puelche roadside section located near sea level and Lago Reflejos at mid elevations (∼800 m a.s.l.) and assess their continuous records since local ice-free conditions against other NWP sites. We find that cold-tolerant early successional trees dominated the initial stages of vegetation development in the Seno Reloncaví lowlands (∼18-17 ka), followed by thermophilous shade-tolerant North Patagonian rainforest (NPRF) trees, which achieved their maxima between ∼17 and 15 ka at low-elevations. A spread of cold- and shade-tolerant hygrophilous NPRF conifers ensued (∼14.8-13 ka) reaching similar magnitude at low- and mid-elevations, interrupted by increases in trees favored by canopy fragmentation linked to fire and explosive volcanism (∼13-11 ka). Thermophilous, shade-intolerant, summer-drought tolerant Valdivian rainforest (VRF) trees increased and achieved maxima between ∼10 and 8 ka, most notably in the lowlands, coeval with peak abundance of the NPRF conifers Fitzroya/Pilgerodendron and Podocarpus nubigena in mid-elevation Lago Reflejos, contemporaneous with their virtual disappearance near sea level. Widespread increases in cold-tolerant hygrophilous NPRF trees occurred after ∼8 ka, followed by mixing of NPRF and VRF elements in the lowlands after ∼6.3 ka with centennial-scale alternations. Inter-site and regional coherences of our findings suggest that variations in Southern Westerly Wind influence, along with disturbance regimes of natural and human origin, have driven the composition, structure, dynamics, and zonation of temperate rainforests in NWP since T1. We observe that Lago Reflejos features the highest abundance of Fitzroya cupressoides at regional scale since ∼12 ka, attesting to the importance of mid-elevation Andean environments for the persistence of these highly valued trees in the context of postglacial climate evolution, shifts in fire regimes, volcanic, and human disturbance in NWP.

Más información

Volumen: 332
Número: 108630
Editorial: Elsevier
Fecha de publicación: 2024
Página de inicio: 1
Página final: 22
Idioma: ingles


Notas: WoS, Scopus