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Paleoecological Projects at the Colorado Plateau Research Station: 

Holocene and late Pleistocene Vegetation Change

Paleoecology is the science of reconstructing past environments using fossil materials of plants, animals, or other indicators of past environments.  Rather than reconstructing the past of a specific type of plant or animal, the goal of paleoecologists is to combine all the types of data to obtain insights into the structure and function of past ecosystems.  Frequently, paleoecological studies focus on environments of the Quaternary Period (the last 2 million years) because older environments are less well represented in the fossil record.  There are many instances of older ecosystems being reconstructed, but research at the Colorado Plateau Research Station is typically on the the Holocene (the last 10,000 years), or the last glacial period of the Pleistocene (the Wisconsinan period of the ice age; 50,000 to 10,000 years ago).  These studies are useful for understanding the dynamics of ecosystem change and for reconstructing conditions that existed before the impacts of industrialized societies on natural ecosystems. 

Paleoecological research at the Colorado Plateau Research Station includes the use of fossil packrat middens, fossil pollen, and historical records.

Paleoecological and Historical Vegetation Studies at the Colorado Plateau Research Station.

Other Arizona Quaternary Paleoecologists and Programs

This page maintained by Larry Coats.