This chapter explores the strengths and shortcomings of the major sources of data on Quaternary vegetation and climate change and discusses the use of models as a means to explore past and potential future environmental changes. The flora and major vegetation types of the western United States are present for several million years. Ongoing changes in atmospheric chemistry, climate, and human activities may lead to major vegetation changes over the coming decades to centuries. The combination of observations from the paleoenvironmental record, modern ecological studies, and modeling now permit assessments of the magnitude of potential future changes in the context of natural variability. They also provide opportunities for hypothesis testing and identification of the processes driving past changes in vegetation and climate. Understanding the dynamics of paleoenvironmental change can contribute to current conservation and natural resource management efforts and will help conservation and natural resource managers anticipate the potential rate, magnitude, and complexity of future vegetation change.
|Title||Quaternary vegetation and climate change in the western United States: Developments, perspectives, and prospects|
|Authors||Robert S. Thompson, Sarah Shafer, Laura E. Strickland, Peter K. Van De Water, Katherine H. Anderson|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Developments in Quaternary Sciences|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center|