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Data from: A millennium of climatic and floristic dynamics in the Eastern Cordillera of the Colombian Andes

Cite this dataset

Correa, Alex et al. (2022). Data from: A millennium of climatic and floristic dynamics in the Eastern Cordillera of the Colombian Andes [Dataset]. Dryad.


The transition from the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA, 950-1250 CE) to the Little Ice Age (LIA, 1350 to 1800 CE) is the largest pre-industrial climate shift within the last two millennia, offering an opportunity to study how vegetation responds to rapid climate change. We analyzed a sedimentary record from the Colombian Andes to reconstruct regional vegetation dynamics during this time interval, identify the modern environmental distribution of taxa present in the fossil record, and provide a reference for modern regional temperature change. A sediment core was analyzed for organic geochemistry and pollen to reconstruct environmental and vegetation variability between 800 and 1800 CE. Modern occurrences of individuals of the genera found in the fossil record were used to model the distribution of taxa across gradients of mean annual temperature and precipitation. These models were used to reconstruct temperature and precipitation across time and evaluate the probability of occurrence of taxa from the fossil record across the contemporary landscape.  Reconstructed regional vegetation dynamics were highly coupled with global temperature patterns. Reconstructed climate showed that conditions were warm and dry during the MCA, and cold and relatively wet during the LIA, although quantitative estimations might have been amplified by human disturbances. Rates of temperature change during the MCA-LIA transition were substantially lower than those calculated for the last two decades. Vegetation turnover between 800 and 1800 CE resembled those expressed through a transect extending ~30 km southeast from the lake. Around lake Tota, modern rates of temperature change have no precedent within the last two millennia. The modern environmental affinities of taxa involved in vegetation turnover during the MCA-LIA transition point to the importance of landscape diversity and connectivity for rapid vegetation response to climate change.


Twenty samples spread along a 40-cm sediment core from Lake Tota, Esatern Cordillera of Colombia, were analyzed for palynological content. Samples were prepared according to standard protocols. Pollen counts were carried out under transmitted light microscope at x400 and x1000 magnifications, aiming at a pollen count of 250 grains per sample.

Usage notes

Pollen taxa are in columns and samples in rows with sampled depth and estimated age in both Common Era (CE) and Before Present (BP).


National Science Foundation, Award: EAR 1231445649

Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, IN, Award: RSFG & IDF

Inter-American Institute, Award: CRN3038

National Science Foundation, Award: GEO-1128040