Climatic response surfaces from pollen data for some eastern North American taxa

P. J. Bartlein, I. C. Prentice, T. Webb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

243 Citations (Scopus)


Ecological response surfaces are nonlinear functions describing the way in which the abundances of taxa depend on the joint effects of = or >2 environmental variables. Continental-scale patterns in the relative abundances of plant taxa are dominated by the effects of macroclimate on the competive balance among taxa. Pollen analyses record such regional variations for major vegetation components. Empirical ecological response surfaces were derived from high-resolution climate models to yield testable reconstructions of vegetation in E North America. Response surface analysis consists of a remapping of abundance patterns from geographic space into climate space, and complements efforts to explain distributions in terms of biological processes. The surfaces focus attention on the climatic location of range limits and optima, and on less obvious phenomena such as the spatial pattern in the relative sensitivity of different taxa to spatial variation in the climatic variables. Such response surfaces may be coupled to palaeoclimatic simulations from high-resolution climate models to yield testable reconstructions of vegetational history.-from Authors

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-57
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Biogeography
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1986
Externally publishedYes


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