Biome reconstruction from pollen and plant macrofossil data for Africa and the Arabian peninsula at 0 and 6000 years

Dominique Jolly*, I. Colin Prentice, Raymonde Bonnefille, Aziz Ballouche, Martin Bengo, Patrice Brenac, Guillaume Buchet, David Burney, Jean Pierre Cazet, Rachid Cheddadi, Therese Edorh, Hilaire Elenga, Saida Elmoutaki, Joel Guiot, Fouzia Laarif, Henry Lamb, Anne Marie Lezine, Jean Maley, Muaka Mbenza, Odile PeyronMaurice Reille, Isabelle Reynaud-Farrera, Guy Riollet, Jim C. Ritchie, Emile Roche, Louis Scott, Immaculate Ssemmanda, Herbert Straka, Mohammed Umer, Elise Van Campo, Sikiminywa Vilimumbalo, Annie Vincens, Martyn Waller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

253 Citations (SciVal)


Biome reconstruction from pollen and plant macrofossil data provides an objective method to reconstruct past vegetation. Biomes for Africa and the Arabian peninsula have been mapped for 6000 years BP and provide a new standard for the evaluation of simulated palaeovegetation distributions. A test using modern pollen data shows the robustness of the biomization method, which is able to predict the major vegetation types with a high confidence level. The application of the procedure to the 6000 years data set (pollen and plant macrofossil analyses) shows systematic differences from the present that are consistent with the numerous previous regional and continental interpretations, while providing a more extensive and more objective basis for such interpretations. Madagascar, eastern, southern and central Africa show only minor changes in terms of biomes, compared to present. Major changes in biome distributions occur north of 15°N, with steppe in many low-elevation sites that are now desert, and temperate xerophytic woods/scrub and warm mixed forest in the Saharan mountains. These shifts in biome distributions imply significant changes in climate, especially precipitation, between 6000 years and present, reflecting a change in monsoon extent combined with a southward expansion of Mediterranean influence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1007-1027
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Biogeography
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 01 Nov 1998


  • 6000 years BP
  • Africa
  • Arabian peninsula
  • Biome
  • Madagascar
  • Plant functional type
  • Plant macrofossil
  • Pollen


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