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Pliocene sediments from several sites in western North America contain ostracodes indicating deposition in lacustrine and wetland settings. The ostracodes offer a means of reconstructing the aquatic paleoenvironment. Because water temperature, chemistry, and lake volume are coupled to climate, reconstruction of these parameters provides a direct insight into Pliocene climate. The site ages were determined from tephrochronology, paleomagnetics, and associated mammals. The morphology of many ostracode species also provides direct information about the paleoenvironment in which they lived. During the Pliocene (about 3.5-2.5 Ma) some species have unusually ornate carapace morphology indicative of large geologically stable lakes, which must have required a stable climate to sustain them. North American Pliocene climate changed from a modern-like state 4.5-3.5 Ma to a period with greater precipitation and less evaporation than today, 3.5-2.5 Ma. This wetter period, inferred from the large geologically long-lived lakes, implies a stable atmospheric circulation pattern. The stable circulation pattern collapsed around 2.5 Ma and climate returned to a modern-like situation. ?? 1991.
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Pliocene-climate history of the western united states derived from lacustrine ostracodes