Last modified Weds 2nd April 1997
GLOBAL ATLAS OF PALAEOVEGETATION SINCE THE LAST GLACIAL MAXIMUM.
The Atlas is divided into seven regions. The links on this page point to introductory information on the palaeovegetation of each region, including the names of contributing experts to the QEN project. These regional introductions contain the pointers to the maps themselves.
NEW! Discussion of the differences between various published palaeovegetation maps
Key to the vegetation classification system used in the atlas
Return to QEN Home Page
Colour versions of the QEN maps and a useful 'time-line' summary of events of the last 10,000 years.
The maps presented here are drawn from the coastlines of regional/continental maps in the Phillips World Atlas (Phillips, London 1986), with vegetation boundaries based on the range of sources cited in the literature survey. For the LGM, the -150m contour has been followed as an approximate indicator of the LGM coastline, except in areas where good map reconstructions of this coastline already exist. Note that the precise geographical area covered by each map region does not correspond precisely to the boundaries as covered in the text. This is a result of the constraints on availability for commercially available physiographic maps which correspond to the correct regional orientation. Many studies have been conducted on regions that happen to cross the boundaries of our maps, so it is difficult to constrain them very precisely. Thus, in the literature the relatively homogenous Neotropical region is discussed as a unit, and the text summary here reflects this tradition. However, good clear outline maps showing both the Central American/Caribbean and the South American tropics on a single map have proven to be unobtainable to us. Hence on our maps, the neotropics is split between the 'North America' and 'South America' regional maps. Similar discrepancies between the organisation of the maps and the text database are due to the same problems of balancing tradition against practicality. New Zealand is not presented in my maps because no commercially available atlas maps included it in sufficient detail on the same sheet as Australia/New Guinea, but the text description alone should suffice to give the reader an adequate impression of the past distribution of vegetation.
Where the vegetation for a particular time slice is thought to have been generally very similar to that during another time slice, the maps are in effect combined. This should not be taken to imply that the vegetation everywhere in the region was absolutely identical to that which exists at the present, just that the known differences were so minor that they would scarcely be detectable on a map at this scale.
The numbers of vegetation types on these maps correspond to the key in the vegetation scheme linked to this page. Where possible, abbreviated mnemonic codes for each vegetation type are also shown, to make the process of map interpretation somewhat easier.
A summary of suggested area of each palaeovegetation type (Mkm2), from the QEN maps.
|Ecosystem type||18,000 14C y.a. Area||8,000 14C y.a. Area||5,000 14C y.a. Area||Pres-Potential|
|1. Tropical Rain Forest||5.56||16.38||15.77||12.47|
|2. Monsoon Forest||1.94||4.5||4.5||2.96|
|3. Tropical Woodland||1.19||6.62||6.17||6.17|
|4. Tropical Thorn Scrub||3.33||5.99||7.49||10.85|
|5. Tropical Semi-Desert||4.64||9.43||10.97||6.98|
|6. Tropical Grassland||10.5||7.64||3.89||2.79|
|7. Tropical Desert||13.83||0.39||1.69||11.73|
|8. Savanna/Forest Mosaic|
|9. Tropical Savanna||12.25||10.87||11.82||8.45|
|10. Warm Temperate Forest||0.76||4.55||4.59||3.45|
|11. Giant Conifer Forest||0||0.35||0.38||0.38|
|12. Tropical Montane Forest||0.54||1.2||1.1||0.96|
|13a) Mediterranean Forest||0||0.68||0.78||0.80|
|13b) Mediterranean Scrub||0.17||0.66||0.2||0.2|
|14. Cool Temperate Forest||0.02||9.75||11.27||10.82|
|15. Southern Taiga||0||6.53||8.87||5.70|
|16. Mid Taiga||0.86||7.17||5.68||6.26|
|17. Open Boreal Woodland||2.5||4.84||3.83||3.22|
|18a) Temperate Woodland||4.35||2.06||2.26||2.03|
|18b) Temperate Scrub||2.91||0.46||0.46||1.18|
|19a) Mtn/dry Tu||0.73||2.57||3.01||3.33|
|19b) Lowl Tu||0.13||1.8||2.67||4.49|
|20a. Steppic Steppe-Tundra||11.82||0||0||0|
|20b Tundric Steppe-Tundra||3.34||0||0||0|
|21. Polar/Montane Desert||15.52||1.95||2.22||2.08|
|22. Temperate Desert||12.5||0.2||0.2||2.42|
|23. Temperate Semi-Desert||7.1||8.16||8.7||7.72|
|24a Moist Steppe||0.5||3.5||4.71||4.87|
|24b Dry Steppe||6.5||3.93||3.03||3.39|
|25. Forest Steppe||1.3||1.2||1.57||1.96|
|26. Forest Tundra||0.6||2.71||1.08||1.2|
|Global total land Mkm2||162.78||150.17||149.82||149.85|