Climate simulations and pollen data reveal the distribution and connectivity of temperate tree populations in eastern Asia during the Last Glacial Maximum
Climate of the Past
Abstract. Publications on temperate deciduous tree refugia in Europe are abundant, but little is known about the patterns of temperate tree refugia in eastern Asia, an area where biodiversity survived Quaternary glaciations and which has the world's most diverse temperate flora. Our goal is to compare climate model simulations with pollen data in order to establish the location of glacial refugia during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). Limits in which temperate deciduous trees can survive are
... can survive are taken from the literature. The model outputs are first tested for the present by comparing climate models with published modern pollen data. As this method turned out to be satisfactory for the present, the same approach was used for the LGM. Climate model simulations (ECHAM5 T106), statistically further downscaled, are used to infer the temperate deciduous tree distribution during the LGM. These were compared with available fossil temperate tree pollen occurrences. The impact of the LGM on the eastern Asian climate was much weaker than on the European climate. The area of possible tree growth shifts only by about 2∘ to the south between the present and the LGM. This contributes to explaining the greater biodiversity of forests in eastern Asia compared to Europe. Climate simulations and the available, although fractional, fossil pollen data agree. Therefore, climate estimations can safely be used to fill areas without pollen data by mapping potential refugia distributions. The results show two important areas with population connectivity: the Yellow Sea emerged shelf and the southern Himalayas. These two areas were suitable for temperate deciduous tree growth, providing corridors for population migration and connectivity (i.e. less population fragmentation) in glacial periods. Many tree populations live in interglacial refugia, not glacial ones. The fact that the model simulation for the LGM fits so well with observed pollen distribution is another indication that the model used is good enough to also simulate the LGM period.