Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 181–190 | Cite as

Desert plant pollen production and a 160-year record of vegetation and climate change on the Alashan Plateau, NW China

  • Ulrike Herzschuh
  • Harald Kürschner
  • Rick Battarbee
  • Jonathan Holmes
Original Article


Recent and subfossil pollen spectra from the Alashan Plateau are presented in order to provide information on desert plant representation and on recent changes in vegetation and climate in this remote area in northern China. The desert vegetation composition is faithfully represented by the surface pollen spectra. The comparison of the desert plant species to the related pollen taxa yielded the following sequence from over-representation to under-representation: Chenopodiaceae, Artemisia, Ephedra fragilis-type s.l., Reaumuria, Nitraria and Calligonum. A 72 cm long sediment record from a small hydrologically-closed inter-dune lake (SE Badan Jilin Sand Sea, southern Alashan Plateau) covering the past ∼160 years (dated by137Cs) was analysed palynologically. Intervals of denser Artemisia coverage on the sand dunes around the lake, indicating wetter climate, occurred from the mid-1850s to the mid-1870s, during the first two decades of the 20th century and from the late 1930s to the beginning of the 1960s.


China Alashan Gobi Badan Jilin Sand Sea Subfossil and recent pollen spectra Recent climate change 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ulrike Herzschuh
    • 1
    • 2
  • Harald Kürschner
    • 3
  • Rick Battarbee
    • 4
  • Jonathan Holmes
    • 4
  1. 1.Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine ResearchPotsdamGermany
  2. 2.Department of GeosciencesUniversity of PotsdamGolmGermany
  3. 3.Freie Universität Berlin, Institute of BiologySystematic Botany and GeobotanyBerlinGermany
  4. 4.Environmental Change Research CentreUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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