Modern pollen–climate relationships in north Xinjiang, northwestern China: Implications for pollen-based reconstruction of Holocene climate

Furong Li*, Yan Zhao, Marie José Gaillard, Huan Li, Jinghui Sun, Qinghai Xu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Fossil pollen records are widely used to reconstruct past climate. Such reconstructions require that the relationships between pollen assemblages, vegetation, and climate are well understood. These can be studied in present circumstances given we assume that modern vegetation and climate are analogous to past ones. In this study, we analyze pollen–vegetation–climate relationships in the Jungar desert and Altay Mountains, northwestern China, a region for which careful reconstruction of past climate is needed to answer unsolved questions on past climate in an area located at the boundary between two different climate regimes (westerlies and monsoon). We use a dataset of 66 surface pollen samples from forest, meadow, steppe, and desert vegetation and six related climate variables, Tann, TJan, TJul, Pann, PJan, and PJul. Principal components analysis, redundancy analysis, Monte Carlo permutation tests, and variation partitioning are applied to quantify these relationships. We also assess pollen ratios as indices of aridity. We find that (1) Pann is the major climatic factor influencing pollen assemblages, followed by PJul, (2) the two variables are not correlated, and (3) the shared effect of (1) PJan and PJul, (2) PJan and Pann, (3) PJul and Tann, and (4) Tann, TJan, and TJul explains a larger portion of the variation in pollen data than the individual effect of each variable. Therefore, robust pollen–climate transfer functions can be developed for Pann and PJul, and several climate variables treated in combination. Artemisia/Chenopodiaceae is a strong index of aridity and Artemisia/Gramineae might be a useful index of Pann and PJul.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)951-966
Number of pages16
JournalHolocene
Volume27
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017

Funding

We are very grateful to Wenwei Zhao for his invaluable field-work assistance, Shinya Sugita and H John B Birks for their very useful advice on numerical analyses, and four anonymous reviewers of two earlier versions of this manuscript for excellent suggestions that greatly improved the quality of the manuscript. We acknowledge the financial support from the National Key Research and Development Program of China (grant no. 2016YFA0600501); the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant numbers 41125006 and 41330105); the China Scholarship Council for Furong Li (grant number 201206180028); the Faculty of Health and Life Science at Linnaeus University (Sweden) for Furong Li and Marie-Jos? Gaillard; and the Chinese High-end Foreign Experts Recruitment Program (grant number 20151300002) for the guest professorship of Marie-Jos? Gaillard at the Hebei Normal University, Shijiazhuang, China.

FundersFunder number
China Scholarship Council for Furong Li201206180028
Chinese High-end Foreign Experts Recruitment Program20151300002
National Natural Science Foundation of China41330105, 41125006
Hebei Normal University
Linnéuniversitetet
National Key Research and Development Program of China2016YFA0600501

    Keywords

    • Altay Mountains
    • China
    • Jungar Desert
    • modern pollen–climate relationships
    • pollen ratios
    • variation partitioning

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