Summary: Development of vegetation in the Central Mojave Desert of
California during the late Quaternary
Peter A. Koehlera,1
, R. Scott Andersona,b,*, W. Geoffrey Spauldingc
Laboratory of Paleoecology, Bilby Research Center, Box 6013, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, United States
Center for Environmental Sciences and Education, Box 5694, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, United States
CH2M Hill, Inc., 2285 Corporate Circle, Suite 200, Henderson, NV 89074, United States
Received 20 May 2003; received in revised form 7 June 2004; accepted 23 September 2004
Vegetation analysis of 47 Neotoma (packrat) middens from the core of the central Mojave Desert of California reveal
changes in desert plant community composition over the last ca. 24,000 years BP, one of the lowest and most arid locations
in North America. Habitat currently dominated by Mojave Desert Larrea tridentata (creosote bush) was occupied prior to ca.
11,500 years BP by Pinus monophylla (pin~on), Juniperus osteosperma (Utah juniper), Purshia mexicana (bitterbush),
Cercocarpus ledifolius (mountain mahogany), and Prunus fasciculata (desert almond) woodland above 1000 m. P.
monophyllaJuniperus woodland was widespread over the southern and central Mojave Desert. However, less than 150 km
north of the central Mojave, J. osteosperma steppe dominated the landscape. Paleoecologic records spanning latitude 358N
ca. 378N document a biogeographic boundary between milder, moister environments to the south and the colder, drier