Canyonlands Research Bibliography


50,000 Years of Vegetation and Climate History on the Colorado Plateau, Utah and Arizona, USA

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

Quaternary Research





First Page


Last Page


Publication Date



Sixty packrat middens were collected in Canyonlands and Grand Canyon National Parks, and these series include sites north of areas that produced previous detailed series from the Colorado Plateau. The exceptionally long time series obtained from each of three sites (>48,000 C-14 yr BP to present) include some of the oldest middens yet discovered. Most middens contain a typical late-Wisconsinan glaciation mixture of mesic and xeric taxa, evidence that plant species responded to climate change by range adjustments of elevational distribution based oil individual criteria, Differences in elevational range from today for trees and shrubs ranged from no apparent change to as much as 1200 m difference. The oldest middens from Canyonlands NP, however, differ in containing strictly xeric assemblages, including middens incorporating needles of Arizona single-leaf pinyon, far north of its current distribution. Similar-aged middens from the eastern end of Grand Canyon NP contain plants more typical of glacial climates, but also contain fossils of one-seed juniper near its Current northern limit in Arizona. Holocene middens reveal the development of modern vegetation assemblages on the Colorado Plateau, recording departures of mesic taxa from low elevation sites, and the arrival of modern dominant components much later.


Originally published by Elsevier.