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  1. Abstract

    We examine major reorganizations of the terrestrial ecosystem around Mono Lake, California during the last deglacial period from 16,000–9,000 cal yr BP using pollen, microcharcoal, and coprophilous fungal spores (Sporormiella) from a deep-water sediment core. The pollen results record the assemblage, decline, and replacement of a mixed wooded community of Sierran and Great Basin taxa with Alkali Sink and Sagebrush Steppe biomes around Mono Lake. In particular, the enigmatic presence ofSequoiadendron-type pollen and its extirpation during the early Holocene hint at substantial biogeographic reorganizations on the Sierran-Great Basin ecotone during deglaciation. Rapid regional hydroclimate changes produced structural alterations in pine–juniper woodlands facilitated by increases in wildfires at 14,800 cal yr BP, 13,900 cal yr BP, and 12,800 cal yr BP. The rapid canopy changes altered the availability of herbaceous understory plants, likely putting pressure on megafauna populations, which declined in a stepwise fashion at 15,000 cal yr BP and 12,700 cal yr BP before final extirpation from Mono Basin at 11,500 cal yr BP. However, wooded vegetation communities overall remained resistant to abrupt hydroclimate changes during the late Pleistocene; instead, they gradually declined and were replaced by Alkali Sink communities in the lowlands as temperature increased into the Early Holocene, and Mono Lake regressed.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2024

    The response of aquatic ecosystems in the Sierra Nevada (California, USA) to late Quaternary hydroclimate changes remains mostly unknown. Mono Lake, a large endorheic lake just east of the Sierra Nevada, contains an expanded archive of laminated sediments that can be used to examine the response of benthos to environmental changes. Fossil ostracodes from a radiocarbon‐dated core were used to examine paleoecologic changes from ~16.6 to 4.3k cal abp.Seven species were identified, with the co‐occurrence ofLimnocythere ceriotuberosaandLimnocythere stapliniindicating a large SO42−‐rich lake in the Pleistocene. The Younger Dryas was complex, withFabaeformiscandona caudatareflecting a cold and deep lake ~13.0–12.2k cal abp, followed by an interval of extensive littoral habitat from ~12.2–11.6k cal abp.Ostracode diversity, valves g–1and the ratio of adult:juvenile valves declined after ~10.7k cal abpdue to regression, altered hydrochemistry and seasonal anoxia. Strong seasonality during the Early Holocene is suggested by the presence of reworked ostracodes and macrocharcoal, delivered to Mono Lake by erosion of ancient lake beds in the basin. A depauperate ostracode fauna in the Middle Holocene suggests a strong sensitivity to drought in this ecosystem, which has implications for biodiversity in the future.

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