The last interglacial was the most recent time when temperatures were 1–2 °C above modern, but little is known of this period in the lowland Neotropics. Equally, data for the full glacial period are very limited. A detailed analysis of the period between ~ 137 and 100 ka was completed to provide a paleoecological history of the last interglacial in central Panama. Two additional fossil diatom records from the same depositional basin provided records of the glacial period. Diatom assemblages were compared across all cores and the dominant species of both glacial and interglacial periods was almost always Aulacoseira granulata. Other species, e.g. Aulacoseira agassizii, Achnanthidium minutissimum, Nitzschia amphibia, and Navicula radiosa, had distinctive patterns of abundance within the record, indicating a shallowing of the lake in the last millennia of MIS5e. The period between 119 and 108 ka witnessed the most change within the high-resolution portion of the record suggesting an increased lake level, with expanding lake margins. Other sediment cores collected within the caldera revealed the continued presence of a lake at El Valle through much of the glacial period, with shallowing evident at the time of the LGM. The changes in diatom assemblages at El Valle provide one of the oldest precipitation records from Central America tracking mean ITCZ position between the last interglacial and glacial periods. Furthermore, the evidence for both a wet interglacial and glacial period support palynological findings that the humid environments of Central Panama were not interrupted by glacial aridity.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Acknowledgements Drilling of the 2008 El Valle core was made possible through a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF-0902864). We thank all those involved in the drilling process of the EV08 core including Richard Wharry, Diana Ochoa, Andrés Gómez and Javier Luque. We thank Carlos Jaramillo for his help in transporting the core. William Gosling, Louise Thomas, and Peter van Calsteren of the Open University, U.K. are thanked for their assistance in providing the initial U/Th age. We would also like to thank the reviewers for their helpful insights into the composition of this manuscript.
© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
- Fossil diatoms
- Lake level