A Holocene vegetation history from lowland Guatemala

TitleA Holocene vegetation history from lowland Guatemala
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1996
AuthorsIslebe, GA, Hooghiemstra, H, Brenner, M, Curtis, JH, Hodell, DA
Date PublishedSep
Accession NumberWOS:A1996VH18900002

A 5.45-m core from Lake Peten-Irza, lowland Guatemala, contains a near-complete record of Holocene sedimentation. The age-depth relationship for the core is based on AMS C-14 dating of terrestrial wood fragments and provides a reliable chronology in this karst region where hard-water lake error has typically confounded sediment geochronology. In the basal part of the sequence, pollen of the Moraceae-Urticaceae group dominate, indicating the presence of widespread tropical forest during the early Holocene (c. 8600-5600 yr BP). Relative abundance of pollen of high forest taxa declined beginning as early as 5600 yr BP, indicating climatic drying or perhaps initial land clearance. Deforestation by prehistoric Mayan inhabitants is documented clearly in the pollen record beginning about 2000 pr BP (106 cal BC-122 cal Ao, 95.4%, 2 sigmas) by the appearance of disturbance taxa (e.g. Ambrosia and Poaceae) and presence of Zea. Forest regrowth occurred following the Classic Maya collapse, c. AD 900, as reflected by a relative increase in Moraceae-Urticaceae pollen.