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Journal Articles Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology Year : 1997

Phytoliths : indicators of grassland dynamics during the late Holocene in intertropical Africa

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Abstract

The reconstruction of African tropical grassland history during the late Holocene can be carried out using phytolith analysis. Fossil phytolith assemblages from Lake Guiers, in the Sahelian region of Senegal, and from Lake Sinnda, in the Guineo-Congolian region of Congo were investigated. The results are interpreted on the basis of modern phytolith assemblages from the same regions and compared to pollen data previously obtained. Tall or short grass associations are discriminated by their phytolith index lph(%)=saddle/(cross + dumbel + saddle), while the density of shrubs and trees is indicated by relative proportions of the dicotyledon phytoliths. The phytolith data emphasize that, in the Guineo-Congolian region around Lake Sinnda, the driest phase of the late Holocene occurred between 4000 and 1200 yr B.P., commencing with the opening of the dense forest and its replacement by a short grass savanna. From ca. 1000 yr B.P., wetter climatic conditions developed, as represented by the setting up of a tall grass savanna woodland. The modern shrub and tall grass savanna was developed ca. 700 yr B.P. In the Sahelian region around Lake Guiers, the driest phase occurred after about 2000 yr B.P. and has not been followed by moister conditions. A tall grass savanna woodland was gradually replaced by a shrub and short grass savanna which still occurs. A short period of development of swampy vegetation, which can be related to a lake level change, interrupted the semi-arid adaptation of the vegetation, between about 2000 yr B.P. and the present.
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hal-01909698 , version 1 (14-12-2018)

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Anne Alexandre, J.-D Meunier, Anne-Marie Lezine, A. Vincens, D. Schwartz. Phytoliths : indicators of grassland dynamics during the late Holocene in intertropical Africa. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 1997, 136, pp.213 - 229. ⟨10.1016/S0031-0182(97)00089-8⟩. ⟨hal-01909698⟩
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