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Late Pleistocene-Holocene vegetation history and anthropogenic activities deduced from pollen spectra and archaeological data at Guxu Lake, eastern China

  • Qiu, Zhenwei1
  • Jiang, Hongen2
  • Ding, Lanlan3
  • Shang, Xue2
  • 1 National Museum of China, Beijing, 100006, China , Beijing (China)
  • 2 Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100049, China , Beijing (China)
  • 3 Helu Relics Museum, Wuxi, 214161, China , Wuxi (China)
Published Article
Scientific Reports
Springer Nature
Publication Date
Jun 09, 2020
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-65834-z
Springer Nature


This study presents high-resolution pollen and charcoal records from Guxu Lake in the Taihu Lake Basin, eastern China, spanning the last 23,000 years. The sedimentary sequences revealed dynamic terrestrial and lacustrine environments during 23.0-11.7 cal ka BP, the climate was relatively cold and dry, and the vegetation was dominated by evergreen-deciduous broadleaf and coniferous mixed forest. During 11.7-4.4 cal ka BP, the Quercus- and Castanopsis-dominated evergreen-deciduous broadleaf mixed forest expanded, while the Poaceae and Artemisia were still the major terrestrial herbs under warmer and more humid conditions. After this period, the climate became relatively cool and dry again, and the vegetation landscape was comparatively stable, as it remains today. Wild rice likely grew before Neolithic humans occupied this area. The variations in Oryza-type Poaceae pollen spectra and distributions of Neolithic archaeological sites indicate rice agriculture may have first appeared and developed with human occupation in ca. 7.0-4.4 ka BP. During the historical period, beginning approximately 4 ka BP, a clear signal of intensified anthropogenic disturbance is evident from the clearing of forests, high charcoal concentrations and the presence of rice pollen in large quantities. These results suggest more intensified rice farming was widespread, with increasing human impact on the environment.

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