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Late-Holocene savanna dynamics in the Amboseli Basin, Kenya

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Author(s)

  • Stephen M. Rucina
  • Veronica M. Muiruri
  • Laura Downton
  • Rob Marchant

Department/unit(s)

Publication details

JournalThe Holocene
DatePublished - Aug 2010
Issue number5
Volume20
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)667-677
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Pollen, microscopic charcoal and radiocarbon data are used to document changes in vegetation dynamics during the late Holocene from Namelok Swamp in the Amboseli Basin (Kenya). The data reveal changes in savanna vegetation composition driven by an interaction of climate change, anthropogenic and herbivore activities. The abundance of Celtis, Podocarpus and Syzygium reflects a relatively moist climate from around 3000 to 2400 cal. yr BP. Increased abundance of Acacia, Amaranthaceae/Chenopodiaceae and Poaceae suggest a drier and/or warmer climate from 2150 to around 1675 cal. yr BP. The expansion of Syzygium within the catchment and decrease in Amaranthaceae/Chenopodiaceae reflect a relatively wet phase from around 1675 to about 550 cal. yr BP - superimposed on this is a large increase in Poaceae from 1400 to 800 cal. yr BP indicative of a drier environment. The dominance of Amaranthaceae/Chenopodiaceae and Poaceae with an associated decrease in Syzygium from 550 cal. yr BP is thought to correspond to a drier climate. The uppermost samples, dating to the last 150 years, record a large increase in Acacia, Amaranthaceae/Chenopodiaceae and Poaceae with decrease in Syzygium and are attributed to recent land-use changes associated with increased sedentary settlement. The increased presence of Cannabis sativa, Cereal and Ricinus communis pollen, combined with charcoal in the sediment record, particularly from 2500 but more constantly from 1600 cal. yr BP, indicate a long history of human-ecosystem interaction in the Amboseli Basin that has implications for future management of the area.

    Research areas

  • Amboseli, charcoal, human impact, Kenya, pollen, savanna, EAST-AFRICA, CLIMATE-CHANGE, LAKE TANGANYIKA, HUMAN IMPACT, FOREST, VEGETATION, RECORD, SOUTHERN, HISTORY, UGANDA

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