Research ArticlePALEONTOLOGY

Neogene precipitation, vegetation, and elevation history of the Central Andean Plateau

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science Advances  28 Aug 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 35, eaaz4724
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz4724

Abstract

Andean uplift played a fundamental role in shaping South American climate and species distribution, but the relationship between the rise of the Andes, plant composition, and local climatic evolution is poorly known. We investigated the fossil record (pollen, leaves, and wood) from the Neogene of the Central Andean Plateau and documented the earliest evidence of a puna-like ecosystem in the Pliocene and a montane ecosystem without modern analogs in the Miocene. In contrast to regional climate model simulations, our climate inferences based on fossil data suggest wetter than modern precipitation conditions during the Pliocene, when the area was near modern elevations, and even wetter conditions during the Miocene, when the cordillera was around ~1700 meters above sea level. Our empirical data highlight the importance of the plant fossil record in studying past, present, and future climates and underscore the dynamic nature of high elevation ecosystems.

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science Advances