Palaeodistribution modelling of European vegetation types at the Last Glacial Maximum using modern analogues from Siberia: Prospects and limitations
|Year of publication
|Article in Periodical
|Magazine / Source
|Quaternary Science Reviews
|MU Faculty or unit
|Europe; Last Glacial Maximum; Modern analogues; Palaeoecological reconstructions; Siberia; Species distribution modelling
|We modelled the European distribution of vegetation types at the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) using present-day data from Siberia, a region hypothesized to be a modern analogue of European glacial climate. Distribution models were calibrated with current climate using 6274 vegetation-plot records surveyed in Siberia. Out of 22 initially used vegetation types, good or moderately good models in terms of statistical validation and expert-based evaluation were computed for 18 types, which were then projected to European climate at the LGM. The resulting distributions were generally consistent with reconstructions based on pollen records and dynamic vegetation models. Spatial predictions were most reliable for steppe, forest-steppe, taiga, tundra, fens and bogs in eastern and central Europe, which had LGM climate more similar to present-day Siberia. The models for western and southern Europe, regions with a lower degree of climatic analogy, were only reliable for mires and steppe vegetation, respectively. Modelling LGM vegetation types for the wetter and warmer regions of Europe would therefore require gathering calibration data from outside Siberia. Our approach adds value to the reconstruction of vegetation at the LGM, which is limited by scarcity of pollen and macrofossil data, suggesting where specific habitats could have occurred. Despite the uncertainties of climatic extrapolations and the difficulty of validating the projections for vegetation types, the integration of palaeodistribution modelling with other approaches has a great potential for improving our understanding of biodiversity patterns during the LGM.