Late Pliocene and Early Pleistocene vegetation history of northeastern Russian Arctic inferred from the Lake El'gygytgyn pollen record
Abstract. The 318 m thick lacustrine sediment record from Lake El'gygytgyn, northeastern Russian Arctic cored by the international El'gygytgyn Drilling Project provides unique opportunities for the time-continuous reconstruction of the regional paleoenvironmental history for the past 3.6 Myr. Pollen studies of the lower 216 m of the lacustrine sediments demonstrate their value as an excellent archive of vegetation and climate changes during the Late Pliocene and Early Pleistocene. About 3.5–3.35 Myr BP, the vegetation at Lake El'gygytgyn, now an area of tundra was dominated by spruce-larch-fir-hemlock forests. After ca. 3.35 Myr BP dark coniferous taxa gradually disappeared. A very pronounced environmental change took place ca. 3.31–3.28 Myr BP, corresponding to the Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) M2, when treeless tundra- and steppe-like habitats became dominant in the regional vegetation. Climate conditions were similar to those of Late Pleistocene cold intervals. Numerous coprophilous fungi spores identified in the pollen samples suggest the presence of grazing animals around the lake. Following the MIS M2 event, larch-pine forests with some spruce mostly dominated the area until ca. 2.6 Myr BP, interrupted by colder and drier intervals ca. 3.043–3.025, 2.935–2.912, and 2.719–2.698 Myr BP. At the beginning of the Pleistocene, ca. 2.6 Myr BP, noticeable climatic deterioration occurred. Forested habitats changed to predominantly treeless and shrubby environments, which reflect a relatively cold and dry climate. Peaks in observed green algae colonies (Botryococcus) around 2.53, 2.45, 2.32–2.305, 2.20 and 2.16–2.15 Myr BP suggest a spread of shallow water environments. A few intervals (i.e., 2.55–2.53, ca. 2.37, and 2.35–2.32 Myr BP) with a higher presence of coniferous taxa (mostly pine and larch) document some relatively short-term climate ameliorations during Early Pleistocene glacial periods.