Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 349–361 | Cite as

Long-term responses of mountain forests to environmental change in West-Central Mexico

  • Blanca Lorena Figueroa-RangelEmail author
  • Miguel Olvera-Vargas
Original Article


This study is an important contribution to the International Long-term Ecological Research Network (ILTER), because it presents the local responses of soil and plant composition to global and regional climatic oscillations of the last millennia in Mexico. Mountain forests are ecosystems that have been constantly threatened by both anthropogenic and climate disturbances, mainly over the Late Holocene. By using palaeoecological techniques with fossil pollen and geochemical elements as proxies, this study incorporates the relationship of trees, herbs and epiphytes with dry and humid climate events. High-temporal resolution in the chronologies allowed the assessment of vegetation changes (every ~ 30 years) and soil geochemical elements in three forests located close (< 8 km) to each other. Our results showed that pine forest contracted along the dry periods of the Little Ice Age (AD 1350–1850), the Medieval Climate Anomaly (AD 800 to 1200) and the Late Classic Drought (AD 600 to 800). However, it expanded in the humid period (AD 1200 to 1350). Cloud forest was the most susceptible ecosystem to the above climate anomalies; trees contracted in periods of aridity and expanded in humid periods. The signature for the transitional forest was confounding: trees increased partially in both dry and humid periods with a well-correlated decrease in epiphytes. Soil losses were common in dry periods while fires increased along the last ~ 300 years.


Cloud forest Pine forest Little Ice Age Medieval Climate Anomaly Palaeoecology Soil 



This research was supported by Mexican National Council for Science and Technology (CONACyT, project 106435) and the Council for Science and Technology in the state of Jalisco (COECyTJal, project 5-2010-875). The comments of Dr. Christopher Reyer and two anonymous reviewers substantially improved this paper.

Supplementary material

10113_2018_1435_MOESM1_ESM.docx (22 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 22.1 kb)
10113_2018_1435_MOESM2_ESM.docx (17 kb)
ESM 2 (DOCX 18 kb)


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Ecología y Recursos NaturalesCentro Universitario de la Costa Sur, Universidad de GuadalajaraAutlán de NavarroMexico

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