Pleistocene climates and endemism in the Chihuahuan Desert flora

TitlePleistocene climates and endemism in the Chihuahuan Desert flora
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Publication1986
AuthorsVan Devender T.R.
EditorBarlow JC, Powell MA, Timmermann BN(eds.)
Conference NameSecond Symposium on Resources of the Chihuahuan Desert Region: United States and Mexico
Date PublishedOctober 20-21, 1
PublisherAllen Press
Conference LocationChihuahuan Desert Research Institute, Sul Ross State University
Call Number00344
Keywordsabstract, abstracts, Chihuahuan Desert, endemic flora, Chihuahuan Desert, paleoclimate, climate,pleistocene, conference, conference proceedings, conferences, ecosystem, pleistocene climates, endemism, flora,succession, packrat middens, pleistocene climates, proceeding, proceedings, succession, Chihuahuan Desert flora, succession,flora

Chronological series of radiocarbon dated plant macrofossil assemblages from small geographic areas are providing excellent developmental sequences of vegetation for the last 35,000 years in the northern Chihuahuan Desert. Midden vegetation chronologies have been completed along a latitudinal gradient from the San Andres (33 degrees 11' N) and Sacramento mountains, New Mexico, and the Jueco Mountains (32 degrees N), and the Rio Grande Village area (29 degrees 30'N) and Maravillas Canyon ( 29 degrees 33'N) in the Big Bend of Texas. Although the chronologies demonstrate some differences in composition and the timing of vegetation changes, they agree in a stepwise progression with the most mesic pinyon-juniper-oak vegetation in the Late Wisconsin and the most xeric in the last 4000 years. The Middle Holocene (about 8000-4500 years ago) was apparently very warm with strongly developed summer monsoons and a maximum expansion of grasslands. About 4500 year ago, a creosote-desertscrub corridor between the Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts was established for the first time since the last interglacial. Deserts are probably at their maximum expansion today with the harshest climates of the present interglacial.

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