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Late Pleistocene Vegetation and Degree of Pluvial Climatic Change in the Chihuahuan Desert

Philip V. Wells
Science
New Series, Vol. 153, No. 3739 (Aug. 26, 1966), pp. 970-975
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1719352
Page Count: 6
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Late Pleistocene Vegetation and Degree of Pluvial Climatic Change in the Chihuahuan Desert
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Abstract

Eight Pleistocene wood rat middens at elevations of 1200, 880, and 600 meters in the Chihuahuan Desert contain abundant macrofossils of pinyon pine, juniper, shrubby liveoak, and Opuntia, together with smaller quantities of Agave lecheguilla and other xerophytes of existing desert vegetation, which indicate a xerophilous woodland vegetation in the lowlands, as much as 800 meters below existing woodland, during the Wisconsin pluvial. Ten radiocarbon dates show ages that range from 11,560 to 14,800 and 16,250 to 20,000 years, and to more than 40,000 years. Absence of most mesophytic montane species in deposits as high as 1200 meters indicates a lack of equivalent downward displacement for the ponderosa pine zone or other zones of montane vegetation. Uneven stocking of isolated peaks in the Chihuahuan Desert province with montane species suggests that long-distance transport of propagules, rather than former continuity, may account for the disjunct distributions of many species.

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