The 318-m long sediment record from Lake El'gygytgyn, NE Russia situated in the present-day herb tundra zone, provides a unique archive of high Arctic environmental changes since ca 3.6 million years ago (Ma). This paper focuses on pollen-derived vegetation change during the mid-Pliocene Warm Period (mPWP) and in particular during Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) M2, which is known to represent the coldest interval of the Pliocene. Building on initial pollen studies, we provide a more complete record and a more detailed discussion of climatically-driven vegetation and environmental changes in the northeastern Russian Arctic, spanning the 203-thousand-year interval between 3.383 and 3.180 Ma ago. Pine-spruce-fir-larch-Douglas fir forests dominated the area around Lake El'gygytgyn between 3.383 and 3.330 Ma (MIS MG4 - MIS MG2). Colder and drier climate caused a decrease of coniferous forests and widespread Sphagnum habitats around the lake between 3.370 and 3.357 Ma. After 3.3 Ma, the presence of spruce, fir and Douglas fir decreased again. A very pronounced cooling took place at the first half of MIS M2 (3.312–3.283 Ma), when treeless tundra- and steppe-like habitats became common in the regional vegetation. Climate conditions were similar or only slightly warmer and wetter to those of the Holocene. Numerous coprophilous fungi spores identified in the MIS M2 pollen samples suggest the presence of grazing mammals around the lake. Larch-pine forests with some spruce started to dominate the area again after ca. 3.282 Ma, thus pointing to a significant climate amelioration during the mPWP. However, the forested area decreased, while herb- and shrub-dominated vegetation spread again during MIS KM6 (especially 3.235–3.223 Ma), suggesting a noticeable climatic deterioration and relatively cold and dry conditions.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding for the drilling operation at Lake El'gygytgyn in 2008/09 was provided by the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP), the US National Science Foundation (NSF), the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam (GFZ), the Russian Academy of Sciences Far East Branch (RAS FEB), the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR), and the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research (BMWF). Financial support for the palynological analyses was provided by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF; grant 03G0642 ) and the German Research Foundation (DFG; grant ME 1169/24 ). The work of AA was also partly sponsored by the Russian Government Program of Competitive Growth of Kazan Federal University . We are thankful to V.R. Filin (Biological Faculty of Moscow State University) for the identification of wood remains found in the lake El'gygytgyn core. We also acknowledge the valuable comments and advices of an anonymous reviewer which helped to improve the manuscript.
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- Russian Arctic
- Vegetation history
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