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Volcán Tabor, Ibagué, Tolima

 Volume 4 Chapter 2


Chapter 2

Colombia in the Quaternary: An Overview of Environmental and Climatic Change     

Henry HOOGHIEMSTRA and Suzette G.A. FLANTUA 

https://doi.org/10.32685/pub.esp.38.2019.02


Citation is suggested as: 

Hooghiemstra, H. & Flantua, S.G.A. 2019. Colombia in the Quaternary: An overview of environmental and climatic change. In: Gómez, J. & Pinilla–Pachon, A.O. (editors), The Geology of Colombia, Volume 4 Quaternary. Servicio Geológico Colombiano, Publicaciones Geológicas Especiales 38, 52 p.  Bogotá. https://doi.org/10.32685/pub.esp.38.2019.02


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Abstract 


We provide an overview of environmental and climatic change in Colombia during the Quaternary, the last ca. 2.58 Ma. This period is characterised by a suite of glacial–interglacial cycles which are remarkably well documented in Colombian sediments. The distribution of Colombia’s main ecosystems has changed repeatedly driven by orbital forcing at 21, 41, and 100 ky frequencies which were superimposed by millennial–scale (ca. 2.5 ky) climate oscillations. Fossil pollen records have detected biome dynamics through time but records vary in length: the shortest comes from the Chocó rainforest (extending back to ca. 7 ka) and dry inter–Andean forest (ca. 12 ka), followed by the savannas of the Llanos Orientales (ca. 20 ka), the Amazonian rainforests (ca. 40 ka), and lower montane forest (ca. 40 ka). The longest records are from the deep sedimentary basins Bogotá (Funza09, last 2.25 Ma) and Fúquene (last 284 ka), alternatingly located in the upper montane forest and páramo during interglacial and glacial conditions, respectively. Climate change caused shifting biome distributions: mainly latitudinally in the lowlands and elevationally in the mountains. Extrinsic drivers (e.g., mean annual precipitation, length of dry season, atmospheric pCO2, mean anual temperature, freezing days) of migration and changes in vegetation composition and intrinsic drivers (such as interspecies competition and legacy effects) are still insufficiently understood, and thus hamper meaningful projections of the effect of future environmental change on biomes. Multi–site Pleistocene and Holocene information has been spatially synthesised by developing the Latin American Pollen Database. Multi–site information has been analysed by the biomisation method to serve palaeodata–model comparisons and projections about the future of biomes in Colombia. A new method in which pollen–based palaeo–reconstructions are spatially analysed with digital elevation models improved our understanding of spatial and elevational shifts of ecotones, for example the upper forest line, in the northern Andes. In the supplementary information we highlight the strengths and weaknesses in current Quaternary palaeoecological research and provide suggestions for future research.

Keywords:   climate change, Colombia, environmental change, pollen records, quantitative analyses, Quaternary non–analogue environments.


Resumen

Presentamos una visión general del cambio ambiental y climático en Colombia durante el Cuaternario, últimos ca. 2,58 millones de años antes del presente (2,58 Ma). Este período se caracteriza por un conjunto de ciclos glaciales e interglaciales que se encuentran bien registrados en los sedimentos colombianos. La distribución de los principales ecosistemas de Colombia ha cambiado repetidamente debido al forzamiento orbital a frecuencias de 21 000, 41 000 y 100 000 años que fueron superpuestas por oscilaciones climáticas a escala milenaria (ca. 2500 años). Los registros de polen fósil han detectado la dinámica del bioma a través del tiempo; sin embargo, estos registros varían en duración: los registros más cortos provienen de la selva húmeda tropical del Chocó (extendiéndose hasta ca. 7000 años antes del presente, ka) y del bosque seco interandino (ca. 12 ka), seguidos por las sabanas de los Llanos Orientales (ca. 20 ka), las selvas tropicales amazónicas (ca. 40 ka) y los bosques montanos bajos (ca. 40 ka). Los registros más largos corresponden a las cuencas sedimentarias profundas Bogotá (Funza09, últimos 2,25 Ma) y Fúquene (últimos 284 ka), ubicadas alternativamente en el bosque montano superior y el páramo durante las condiciones interglaciares y glaciales, respectivamente. El cambio climático provocó cambios en la distribución de los biomas: sobre todo latitudinalmente en las tierras bajas y altitudinalmente en las montañas. Los factores extrínsecos de la migración (p. ej. la precipitación media anual, la duración de la estación seca, la pCO2 atmosférica, la temperatura media anual y los días de congelación) y los cambios en la composición de la vegetación y los factores intrínsecos (entre ellos la competencia interespecie y los efectos heredados) no son lo suficientemente comprendidos y, por lo tanto, dificultan las proyecciones del efecto de los cambios ambientales futuros en los biomas. La información pleistocena y holocena de múltiples sitios se ha sintetizado espacialmente mediante el desarrollo de la base de datos palinológicos de América Latina. La información palinológica de múltiples sitios se ha analizado mediante el método de biomización para contribuir a los modelos basados en datos paleontológicos y proyecciones sobre el futuro de los biomas en Colombia. Un nuevo método en el que las paleoreconstrucciones basadas en datos palinológicos se analizan espacialmente con modelos digitales de elevación mejoró nuestro entendimiento sobre los cambios espaciales y altitudinales de los ecotonos, por ejemplo la línea forestal superior en los Andes del norte. En el material suplementario de este capítulo destacamos las fortalezas y debilidades en la investigación paleoecológica cuaternaria y ofrecemos sugerencias para futuras investigaciones.

Palabras clave:   cambio climático, Colombia, cambio ambiental, registros palinológicos, análisis cuantitativos, ambientes cuaternarios sin análogo.


Abbreviations 

Fq                     Fúquene

ka                     thousand years before present

ky                     any period of a thousand years (e.g., frequency lengths, response delay    time)

y                           years

LMF               Lower montane forest

Ma                   million years before present

MIS                 Marine isotope stage

PFT                 Plant functional type

UFL                 Upper forest line

UMF                Upper montane forest



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