Early Holocene Vegetation Record from the Salton Basin, California

Document Type



Biology (CMC), WM Keck Science (CMC), Biology (Pitzer), WM Keck Science (Pitzer), Biology (Scripps), WM Keck Science (Scripps), WM Keck Science

Publication Date



Plant and vertebrate macrofossils in an early Holocene fossil packrat (Neotoma sp.) midden with a radiocarbon age of 8640 ± 100 14 C yr B.P. are reported from the Chocolate Mountains, near the Salton Sea, Riverside County, California. An inventory of the midden has permitted a comparison of the modern flora and fauna of the site with that extant during the early Holocene. Whereas the biota had assumed most aspects of its modern Sonoran desert aspect by this date, statistically significant evidence of differences is attributed to an increased flow of surface water in Salt Creek, a high-standing, low-salinity Lake LeConte, and the late arrival of some characteristic Sonoran desert plants. These observations are consistent with models of significant fall-winter precipitation in the Sonoran Desert, although we cannot exclude alternative explanations.