Identification of >40 taxa of plant macrofossils in 14 rodent (Abrocoma) middens collected from 2800 to 3590 m elevation at the latitude of Arica, Chile (18°S) provide snapshots of vegetation in the northernmost Atacama Desert over the past 3000 years. Midden floras show considerable stability throughout the late Holocene, which may be due in part to the broad elevational ranges of many perennial species and midden insensitivity to changes in plant community structure. The greatest variability is found in annuals in the Prepuna, a climatically sensitive zone. This variability, however might also arise from the brevity of midden depositional episodes. As the first midden record from the Arica-Parinacota Region (Chile's northernmost administrative region), this study demonstrates the potential for future midden research in this area.
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Late-Holocene fossil rodent middens from the Arica region of northernmost Chile