We analysed a dataset composed of multiple palaeoclimate and lake‐sediment pollen records from New England to explore how postglacial changes in the composition and spatial patterns of vegetation were controlled by regional‐scale climate change, a subregional environmental gradient, and landscape‐scale variations in soil characteristics.
The 120,000‐km2study area includes parts of Vermont and New Hampshire in the north, where sites are 150–200 km from the Atlantic Ocean, and spans the coastline from southeastern New York to Cape Cod and the adjacent islands, including Block Island, the Elizabeth Islands, Nantucket, and Martha's Vineyard.
We analysed pollen records from 29 study sites, using multivariate cluster analysis to visualize changes in the composition and spatial patterns of vegetation during the last 14,000 years. The pollen data were compared with temperature and precipitation reconstructions.
Boreal forest featuring
Postglacial changes in the composition and spatial pattern of New England forests were controlled by long‐term trends and abrupt shifts in temperature and precipitation, as well as by the environmental gradient between coastal and inland parts of the region. Substrate and soil moisture shaped landscape‐scale variations in forest composition.