Present and past distribution of fog-dependent Tillandsia vegetation in the hyperarid Atacama Desert

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Title:Main Title: Present and past distribution of fog-dependent Tillandsia vegetation in the hyperarid Atacama Desert
Description:Abstract: The Atacama Desert in northern Chile is believed to be the driest place on Earth, where the availability of water plays a crucial role in determining the presence of plants. Rainfall is basically non-existent but fog is frequently occurring year-round along the coastal mountain range fueling a distinct "lomas" vegetation (Pinto et al., 2006). Here, isolated patches of mainly Tillandsia landbeckii plants typically grow in the fog zone at an elevation between 800 and 1300 m. The formation of Tillandsia is largely controlled by the availability of fog moisture and the spatial distribution has been related to major fog corridors reaching up to 50 km inland (Cereceda et al., 2002). However, little is known about the controls on fog intensities and frequencies over longer timescales due to the general lack of suitable climate archives. In this study, we use stable nitrogen and hydrogen isotopes, lipid biomarkers and remote sensing to track present and past variations in available fog moisture. We collected individuals from different Tillandsia populations (active and dead specimen) along the coastal transect between Arica and the Rio Loa Canyon (ca. 18.5-21.5 ̊S). In addition, we excavated a series of fossil dunes that revealed multiple relict but well preserved Tillandsia layers. We 14C- dated a total of 27 buried Tillandsia layers to develop a chronology of past growth events, and link changes in foliar δ15N and compound-specific n-alkane δD values to moisture availability (Latorre et al., 2011; Sachse et al., 2012). Our first results indicate that Tillandsia growth occurred in continuous intervals over the past 2500 yrs in the North while it ceased at ca. 1000 cal. yrs BP in the South, in agreement with persistent dry conditions during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (Rein et al., 2004). This is also indicated by a shift towards more enriched foliar δ15N values and n-alkane δD values during the same time interval. Our findings indicate the potential of fossil Tillandsia dunes as a valuable paleoclimate archive for past fog events during the late Holocene that may be largely controlled by ENSO-related climate anomalies.
Responsible Party
Creators:Andrea Jaeschke (Author), Christoph Böhm (Author), Mark Reyers (Author), Felix F. Merklinger (Author), Stefano Bernasconi (Author), Enno Schefuß (Author), Stephanie Kusch (Author), Janet Rethemeyer (Author)
Contributors:University of Bremen (Marum - Center for Marine Environmental Sciences) (Hosting Institution), Enno Schefuß (Hosting Institution)
Funding Reference:Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG): CRC 1211: Earth - Evolution at the Dry Limit
Publisher:EGU 2019
Publication Year:2019
CRC1211 Topic:Climate
Related Subprojects:D4, A1, A3, B1
Subjects:Keywords: Organic Geochemistry, Paleoclimate Proxies, Radiocarbon Dating, Stable Isotope Geochemistry, Meteorology
Geogr. Information Topic:Biota
File Details
Data Type:Text - Event Paper
File Size:48 KB
Date:Available: 12.04.2019
Mime Type:application/pdf
Data Format:PDF
Download Permission:Only Project Members
General Access and Use Conditions:According to the CRC1211DB data policy agreement.
Access Limitations:According to the CRC1211DB data policy agreement.
Specific Information - Publication
Publication Status:Accepted
Review Status:Not peer reviewed
Publication Type:Event Paper
Proceedings Title:Geophysical Research Abstracts
Event Website:
Number of Pages:1 (1 - 1)
Event:EGU General Assembly 2019
Event Type:Conference
Event Location:Vienna
Event Duration:7th of April, 2019 - 12th of April, 2019
Metadata Details
Metadata Creator:Andrea Jaeschke
Metadata Created:11.11.2019
Metadata Last Updated:11.11.2019
Funding Phase:1
Metadata Language:English
Metadata Version:V50
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