Asymmetric response of forest and grassy biomes to climate variability across the African Humid Period: influenced by anthropogenic disturbance?

Citation metadata

From: Ecography(Vol. 43, Issue 8)
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Document Type: Brief article
Length: 256 words

Document controls

Main content

Abstract :

A comprehensive understanding of the relationship between land cover, climate change and disturbance dynamics is needed to inform scenarios of vegetation change on the African continent. Although significant advances have been made, large uncertainties exist in projections of future biodiversity and ecosystem change for the world's largest tropical landmass. To better illustrate the effects of climate-disturbance-ecosystem interactions on continental-scale vegetation change, we apply a novel statistical multivariate envelope approach to subfossil pollen data and climate model outputs (TraCE-21ka). We target paleoenvironmental records across continental Africa, from the African Humid Period (AHP: ca 14 700-5500 yr BP) - an interval of spatially and temporally variable hydroclimatic conditions - until recent times, to improve our understanding of overarching vegetation trends and to compare changes between forest and grassy biomes (savanna and grassland). Our results suggest that although climate variability was the dominant driver of change, forest and grassy biomes responded asymmetrically: 1) the climatic envelope of grassy biomes expanded, or persisted in increasingly diverse climatic conditions, during the second half of the AHP whilst that of forest did not; 2) forest retreat occurred much more slowly during the mid to late Holocene compared to the early AHP forest expansion; and 3) as forest and grassy biomes diverged during the second half of the AHP, their ecological relationship (envelope overlap) fundamentally changed. Based on these asymmetries and associated changes in human land use, we propose and discuss three hypotheses about the influence of anthropogenic disturbance on continental-scale vegetation change. Byline: ShanahanTimothy M., BroennimannOliver, ShekeineJohn, DavisBasil A. S., GuisanAntoine, ManningKatie

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|A631180849