Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 674–687 | Cite as

Ecological responses to holocene millennial-scale climate change at high altitudes of east and Central Asia: A case study of Picea/Abies pollen changes in lacustrine sediments

  • Yu LiEmail author
  • Cheng-qi Zhang
  • Xue-hua Zhou


Ecosystem response to climate change in high-altitude regions is a focus on global change research. Picea/Abies forests are widely distributed at high altitudes of East and Central Asia, and their distribution changes are sensitive to climate change. Humidity is an important climatic factor that affects high-altitude ecosystems; however, the relationship between distribution changes of Picea/Abies forests and millennial-scale variability of humidity is still not clear. Palynological records can provide insights into millennial-scale paleovegetation changes, which have been successfully used to reconstruct past climate change in East and Central Asia. In this study, we synthesized 24 Picea/Abies pollen and humidity/moisture changes based upon Holocene lake records in East and Central Asia in order to explore the response of high-latitude ecosystem to millennial-scale climate change. The changing pattern of Holocene lacustrine Picea/Abies pollen in arid Central Asia differs from that of monsoonal East Asia, which can be due to different millennial-scale climate change patterns between monsoonal and arid Central Asia. Then, the relationship between changes in Picea/Abies pollen and humidity/moisture conditions was examined based on a comparison of pollen and humidity/moisture records. The results indicate that millennial-scale Picea/Abies distribution changes are mainly controlled by moisture variability at high altitudes, while the temperature effect plays a minor role in Picea/Abies distribution changes. Moreover, this research proves that lacustrine Picea/Abies pollen can be used as an indicator of millennial-scale humidity/moisture evolution at high altitudes in East and Central Asia.


Lake sediments Palynological records High-altitude regions Picea/Abies Asian summer monsoon Millennial-scale Climate change 


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Center for Hydrologic Cycle and Water Resources in Arid RegionLanzhou UniversityLanzhouChina

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