Timing of vegetation changes at the end of the Holocene Humid Period in desert areas at the northern edge of the Atlantic and Indian monsoon systems
This article aims at discussing the ecological response of the terrestrial and fresh water dependant environments to the installation of arid conditions at the end of the Holocene Humid Period in the Atlantic and Indian monsoon domains. It is mainly focused on dry environments from Chad, Oman and Pakistan where new, high-resolution pollen sequences have been provided. Pollen data show that local hydrological conditions have played a major role in the destruction or survival of tropical tree populations at the end of the Holocene Humid Period, as well as partly explaining the asynchronous pattern of recorded environmental changes in most tropical regions. In desert areas, the response of the fresh water dependant systems to the shift from humid to arid climate conditions appears to have followed a threshold-like pattern. In contrast, terrestrial ecosystems have gradually adapted to increased drought, as shown by the progressive decrease of tropical tree species at Yoa or the gradual expansion in dry plant types in Oman and Pakistan from 6000 cal yrs BP to the present. A remarkable synchroneity in environmental change is recorded at the northern edge of the Atlantic and Indian monsoon systems, with the extreme end of the Holocene Humid Period corresponding to the last occurrence of tropical trees in the desert and the last record of prolonged SW monsoon rainfall over north-western Asia around 4700-4500 cal yrs BP.