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Impact of sea-level and climatic changes on the Amazon coastal wetlands during the late Holocene

Abstract

Wetland dynamics in northern Brazil during the Holocene were studied by pollen analysis and AMS radiocarbon dating of three cores. Near the Amazon mouth region, covered mainly by primary Amazon coastal forest and herbaceous vegetation, the pollen record indicates the dominance of mangroves between 4800 and 1100 cal yr b.p. A contraction of the mangrove area and an expansion of herbaceous and fern vegetation occurred between 1100 and 750 cal yr b.p. The period between 750 and 200 cal yr b.p. is characterized by an expansion of mangrove and a decrease in herbaceous and fern vegetation. This trend continued until the present. On Atalaia Island, the sediment core indicates a period with poor pollen preservation between 830 and 630 cal yr b.p. Between 630 and 330 cal yr b.p., mangroves expanded. Later, up to 45 cal yr b.p., the mangrove area decreased and the herbaceous vegetation expanded. During the last hundred years, the relative sea-level rise most probably favored the mangrove expansion as far as the topographically highest sector on this island, while the herbaceous vegetation decreased. The pollen data from Água Preta Lake indicate dry conditions, as reflected by the poor pollen preservation between 390 and 240 cal yr b.p. Between 240 and 60 cal yr b.p., restinga and Amazon coastal forest with palms dominated this region. For the last 120 years, the record indicates an expansion of the mangrove area. However, recent confinement of mangrove development to the topographically highest area, and the loss of mangrove areas on the lowest surfaces have led to a net loss of mangrove coverage during the last decades.

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Acknowledgments

We thank the members of the Center for Tropical Marine Ecology-Germany in particular Ulf Mehlig and the oceanography students from Laboratory of Coastal Dynamics-UFPa in Brazil. A special thanks to the friend Alexey Nicolau da Costa. This study was financed by the Brazilian National Research Council (CNPq, Process: 470604/2006-9) and the German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF).

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Correspondence to Marcelo Cancela Lisboa Cohen.

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Communicated by E. Grimm.

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Cohen, M.C.L., Behling, H., Lara, R.J. et al. Impact of sea-level and climatic changes on the Amazon coastal wetlands during the late Holocene. Veget Hist Archaeobot 18, 425 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00334-008-0208-0

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Keywords

  • Mangrove
  • Marajó Island
  • Pollen analysis
  • Sea-level