Human used upper montane ecosystem in the Horton Plains, central Sri Lanka - a link to Lateglacial and early Holocene climate and environmental changes
This study utilizes radiocarbon-dated pollen, spores, Sphagnum spp. macrofossils and total organic carbon proxies to examine variability of past climate, environment and human activity in montane rainforest, grassland and wetland of the Horton Plains (HP), central Sri Lanka since the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). The LGM is largely characterized by grasslands and xerophytic herbs dominated open habitats. Arid-LGM punctuated climatic ameliorations, which took place in short episodes. Humans appear to have reached the HP ecosystem after 18,000 cal yrs BP occasionally. The first Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) induced changes in South West Monsoon (SWM) rains occurred at low latitudes between 16,200 and 15,900 cal yrs BP suggesting an onset of monsoon rains. After this event, monsoon rains weakened for several millennia except the period 13,700-13,000 cal yrs BP, but human activity seems to have continued with biomass burning and clearances by slash and burn. Very large size grass pollen grains, which are morphologically similar to pollen from closer forms of Oryza nivara, were found after 13,800 cal yrs BP. Early Holocene extreme and abrupt climate changes seem to have promoted the forms of O. nivara populations in association with humans. New data from the HP would therefore be most interesting to investigate the dispersal and use of domesticated rice in South Asia.