Late Holocene land use evolution and vegetation response to climate change in the watershed of Xingyun Lake, SW China

Publication Name



Knowledge of the past interactions between climate and human land use is essential for understanding the possible future relationships between global change and human societies. In this study, we used pollen and other multi-proxy analyses of the sediments from Xingyun Lake in central Yunnan Plateau to reconstruct the history of land use and ecosystem dynamics during the last 3,200 years. The pollen results indicate that the vegetation became more open gradually and many secondary forests began to grow during the last 100 years. During the Medieval Climatic Anomaly (MCA), the vegetation is dominated by broad-leaved trees, while during the Little Ice Age (LIA) the broad-leaved trees declined but Picea/Abies expanded. Human land use has impacted on the regional vegetation and landscape since 50 CE; large-scale human land use occurred after 750 CE. The sediment accumulation rate (SAR), pollen record, and 14C age offsets reveal that soil erosion is well correlated with human activity and changes in vegetation cover. Before 750 CE, soil erosion was probably limited, but after 750 CE it increased drastically as a result of human activity, and then decreased during the last 100 years. According to the results of the redundancy analysis (RDA), we conclude that climate had an important impact on the regional vegetation, and the late Holocene vegetation changes of Xingyun Lake catchment were mainly influenced by temperature.

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access



Article Number


Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

National Natural Science Foundation of China



Link to publisher version (DOI)