Evidence of a higher late-Holocene treeline along the Continental Divide in central Colorado

The Holocene
By:  and 

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Abstract

Using a combination of 23 radiocarbon ages and annual ring counts from 18 Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine (Pinus aristata) remnants above the local present-day limits, a period of higher treeline has been determined for two sites near the Continental Divide in central Colorado. The highest remnants were found about 30 m above live bristlecone pines of similar size. The majority of the remnants, consisting of standing snags, large logs, and smaller remains, are highly eroded, such that the innermost annual rings of all but one are missing. The radiocarbon ages obtained from the oldest wood recovered from each remnant indicate that the majority were established above the present-day limit of bristlecone pine from prior to 2700 cal. yr BP to no later than about 1200 cal. yr BP. These radiocarbon ages combined with the annual ring count from the corresponding remnant indicate that the majority of the sampled remnants grew above the present-day limit of bristlecone pine from sometime before 2700 cal. yr BP to about 800 cal. yr BP. Evidence of recent climatic warming is demonstrated at one of the sites by young bristlecone pine saplings growing next to the highest remnants; the saplings were established after AD 1965 and represent the highest advance of treeline in at least 1200 years.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Evidence of a higher late-Holocene treeline along the Continental Divide in central Colorado
Series title The Holocene
DOI 10.1177/0959683615591353
Volume 25
Issue 11
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher SAGE
Contributing office(s) Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center
Description 9 p.
First page 1829
Last page 1837
Country United States
State Colorado