A quantitative synthesis of Holocene vegetation change in Nigeria (Western Africa)

Matthew Adeleye, Simon Connor, Simon Haberle

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Understanding long-term (centennial-millennial scale) ecosystem stability and dynamics are key to sustainable management and conservation of ecosystem processes under the currently changing climate. Fossil pollen records offer the possibility to investigate long-term changes in vegetation composition and diversity on regional and continental scales. Such studies have been conducted in temperate systems, but are underrepresented in the tropics, especially in Africa. This study attempts to synthesize pollen records from Nigeria (tropical western Africa) and nearby regions to quantitatively assess Holocene regional vegetation changes (turnover) and stability under different climatic regimes for the first time. We use the squared chord distance metric (SCD) to assess centennial-scale vegetation turnover in pollen records. Results suggest vegetation in most parts of Nigeria experienced low turnover under a wetter climatic regime (African Humid Period), especially between ~8000 and 5000 cal year BP. In contrast, vegetation turnover increased significantly under the drier climatic regime of the late-Holocene (between ~5000 cal year BP and present), reflecting the imp role of moisture changes in tropical west African vegetation dynamics during the Holocene. Our results are consistent with records of vegetation and climatic changes in other parts of Africa, suggesting the Holocene pattern of vegetation change in Nigeria is a reflection of continental-scale climatic changes.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1681-1689
    Issue number11-12
    Publication statusPublished - 2021


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