PALEOECOLOGY OF NORTHWESTERN BERINGIA: RECONSTRCTION BASED ON MACROFOSSIL PLANT REMAINS FROM ZHOKHOV ISLAND, SIBERIA
SMITH, LEDA . Center for Northern Studies / Middlebury College.
A buried peat deposit from Zhokhov Island (76°. 06'N, 152°.42'E, northeast of the New Siberian Islands chain, Russia) contains a variety of
well preserved plant material. The calibrated radiocarbon dates for the
sample indicate that it was deposited about 14,000 to 15,000 years ago
(average calibrated radiocarbon age of 14, 410 BP [Beta Analytic]). The sample thus represents a botanical assemblage from the Late Pleistocene of Northwestern Beringia. Identification and analysis of the plant macrofossils indicates that several vascular plant species occurred on Zhokhov at that time, but have since disappeared from the area. It is clear that the assemblage would be typical of a warmer environment than that which is current on Zhokhov Island. While this may indicate that the overall Late Pleistocene climate of the area was warmer (at least in summer) than at present, the interpretation is complicated by the radically changing shorelines in the region since the time of deposition of the plant remains. The island would have been larger and
closer to the mainland, or may even have been part of the mainland, and
thus subject to a more continental climate.
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