Vegetation inventories (plant taxa present in a vegetation assemblage at a given site) can be used to estimate climatic parameters based on the identification of the range of a given parameter where all taxa in an assemblage overlap ("Mutual Climatic Range"). For the reconstruction of past climates from fossil or subfossil plant assemblages, we assembled the data necessary for such analyses for 530 woody plant taxa and eight climatic parameters in North America. Here we present examples of how these data can be used to obtain paleoclimatic estimates from botanical data in a straightforward, simple, and robust fashion. We also include matrices of climate parameter versus occurrence or nonoccurrence of the individual taxa. These relations are depicted graphically as histograms of the population distributions of the occurrences of a given taxon plotted against a given climatic parameter. This provides a new method for quantification of paleoclimatic parameters from fossil plant assemblages.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Atlas of relations between climatic parameters and distributions of important trees and shrubs in North America—Modern data for climatic estimation from vegetation inventories
U.S. Geological Survey
Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center