The Caatinga is dominated by a semiarid climate and a high plant biodiversity dealing with anthropogenic disturbance and climate change. Previous studies suggest that Caatinga became a completely soil‐water pulse-dominated forest in response to reduced water availability at the end of the last ice age, around 10 cal kyr BP. This work aimed to identify vegetative and climatic evolution, and the human influence in the Cariri region, one of the driest parts of Brazil. We sampled soil in a temporal pond to identify pollen. The testimony is 170 cm in lenght and achieves 6,216 cal yr BP at the base. Pollen analysis indicates the presence of taxa representative of humid climates, between 6,216 and ca. 5000 cal yr BP, like Azolla, followed by implantation of Caatinga's modern configuration from ca. 4,900 cal yrs BP. After 2,700 cal yr BP, humid episodes occurred, possibly related to the El Niño - La Niña variation across the region, marked by increased algae and aquatic herbs concentrations. The occurrence of human activity species like Caryocar, Dioscorea, Spondias, and Licania suggest possibly landscape manipulation by pre – Columbian populations, and exotic Pinus and Prosopis reveal changes in the tree cover caused by European colonization in the Caatinga.

Keywords: Anthropocene; Dry Forest; Paleogeography; Semiarid Region; Sedimentology, Lakes, Lagoons & Swamps.

Author Biographies

José João Lelis Leal Souza, University Federal of Viçosa, Viçosa (MG), Brazil

PhD student in Soils and Plant Nutrition. Line of research: Mineralogy, geochemistry and hydrogeochemistry.

Vanda Brito de Medeiros, University of São Paulo, São Paulo (SP), Brazil

PhD in Sciences, by the Geosciences Institute of the University of São Paulo, Master in Geoenvironmental Analysis and Graduation in Biological Sciences, both by the Guarulhos University. Professor at Ibirapuera University (2012-2014). Palynologist of the Quaternary, focusing on Paleoenvironmental and Paleoclimatic Reconstruction. Degree in Psychology from the Braz Cubas University (1992).

Paulo Eduardo de Oliveira, University of São Paulo, São Paulo (SP), Brazil

Full Professor, Associate Professor at the Department of Sedimentary and Environmental Geology (GSA) at the Institute of Geosciences of the University of São Paulo (IGc/USP). Professor in the Graduate Program in Tectonics and Geochemistry (IGc/USP) and in the Graduate Program in Systematics and Biogeography at the Department of Botany, Institute of Biosciences at USP. Contact email: Phone: Laboratory of Micropaleontology - GSA/IGc/USP: +55 (11) 3091-1988. CNPq Productivity Scholarship Type PQ, Category/Level 2. Graduated in Agronomic Engineering from the University of São Paulo (ESALQ/USP), Master's Degree in Biological Sciences - University of Cincinnati (Ohio, USA) and PhD in Zoology and Botany - The Ohio State University (Ohio, USA). Postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (Panama/USA) and second postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Botany at the Field Museum of Natural History-Chicago (Illinois, USA). Research Associate at The Field Museum of Natural History-Chicago, USA (1992-2002; 2015 - Present). He has experience in the area of Ecology and Botany, with an emphasis on micropalentology, Quaternary palynology, general ecology and studies of Brazilian vegetation with a focus on the themes: Cenozoic palynology, Brazilian ecosystems, paleoecology, limnology. as well as diatom frustules in paleoecological and climate studies and water quality analyses. Coordinator of the Human Resources Project (PRH-FINEP-ANP) at IGc/USP. Co-coordinator of the FAPESP thematic project of collaboration USP-University of Reading, England. He graduated in journalism from the Faculty of Social Communication Cásper Líbero, São Paulo.

Bartolomeu Israel de Souza, Federal University of Paraíba, João Pessoa (PB), Brazil

Doutor em Geografia pela Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (2008) e Pós-doutorado em Biogeografia pela Universidad de Sevilla - Espanha (2013 e 2021). É professor associado da Universidade Federal da Paraíba, estando lotado no Departamento de Geociências. É pesquisador do CNPq. Leciona nos cursos de graduação em Geografia, Biologia e Engenharia Ambiental e na pós-graduação (Mestrado e Doutorado) em Geografia e Programa Regional de Desenvolvimento e Meio Ambiente (PRODEMA)/UFPB. Tem experiência na área de Geografia Física e Meio Ambiente, atuando principalmente nos seguintes temas: desertificação, manejo dos solos, relação planta x microclima x solo e Biogeografia de caatinga. 

Alcina Magnólia Franca Barreto, Federal University of Pernambuco, Recife (PE), Brazil

PhD in Geosciences from the University of São Paulo (1997) and post-doctorate in Geoconservation-Conservation of Geological Heritage (2012) at the University of Minho (Portugal). She is a professor at the Federal University of Pernambuco. She has experience in the area of Geosciences, with emphasis on Stratigraphic Paleontology, working in the Cenozoic and Mesozoic of the Brazilian Northeast. She is the curator of the Paleontological Scientific Collection of the Geology Department of the Technology Center of the Federal University of Pernambuco.

Luiz Carlos Ruiz Pessenda, University of São Paulo, São Paulo (SP), Brazil.

Degree in Physics from Universidade Estadual Paulista Júlio de Mesquita Filho (1977), Master's Degree in 1982 in Nuclear Energy in Agriculture at CENA/USP; specialization in the determination of heavy metals in sea water by ion exchange resins -Technical University of Denmark (1982) and in Atomic Absorption by the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University (1982), Denmark; specialization in Nuclear Analytical Techniques with the support of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA, Vienna) - University of Nairobi (1985), in Isotopic Techniques Applied to Environmental Studies by the University of Washington, (1989), USA and University of Waterloo (1989) , Canada; specialization in Dating C-14 by the University of Washington and University of Georgia (1989), USA, and University of Waterloo, Canada (1989); PhD in Soils and Plant Nutrition from the University of São Paulo (1987) and Post-Doctorate in Environmental Isotopes from the University of Waterloo, Canada (2004); Expert in Latin America (Colombia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Uruguay) at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Vienna, where he guided and supervised the installation of laboratories and provided specialized training in the area of C-14 dating, from 1995 to 2001; Prof. Holder of CENA/USP in Piracicaba, responsible for mandatory discipline (Paleobiology) in the Undergraduate Course in Biological Sciences - ESALQ/USP; alternate course coordinator (2012 - 2016), full member of the course coordination (2006-2009; 2010-2013; 2013-2016). Honored professor in 2008 and 2009. Teaches subject at CENA/USP PG (CEN 5748 Analytical methods and isotopic techniques in paleoenvironmental reconstitution studies) and on the same subject in condensed courses (20/30 h) at Federal Universities (MG, PA, PE, RO, RN,SE) and State (MS and PR) and abroad (University of Mar del Plata and Instituto Argentino de Nivología, Glaciologia y Ciencias Ambientales - IANIGLA-CONICET, Argentina) and is responsible for CEN 5570 Biogeoquímica de Sistemas coastal; titular member of CENA's CPG, from 1993 to 1996; Substitute President of CPG/CENA from 1995 to 1996; alternate member of CPG/CENA, 2014 -16 and 2018 - 20; supervised 59 IC, 12 masters, 14 doctorates (4 co-supervisions) and supervised 10 PD; advises 01 Master and 01 IC; Technical Director of the Analytical and Nuclear Techniques Development Division (DVTEC) at CENA/USP (2003 to 2006 and 2008 to 2009), Deputy Technical Director of DVTEC from 2006 to 2008, 2013 to 2015 and 2019 to 2021; responsible for the C-14 CENA/USP Laboratory since 1990; adviser to international and national journals and research support institutions; coordinated 31 research projects funded by the IAEA, Vienna, CNPq and FAPESP; coordinated (2011-2016) FAPESP Thematic research project linked to the FAPESP Program for Research on Global Climate Change (PFPMCG) and from 2015 to 2018 CNPq Visiting Research Project, "The Atlantic Forest Biodiversity" in collaboration with the University of Reading, United Kingdom United; IAEA expert on C-14 dating; representative of South America at the World Council on Isotopes (WCI) - Committee on Isotopes in Environment; Vice - President of the Executive Board of ABEQUA, 2016-17; member of the Editorial Committee of the journal Quaternary and Environmental Geosciences; specialist in paleoenvironmental studies (vegetation, climate and marine dynamics) in the Late Quaternary using isotopic (C,N), biological (pollen, diatoms, phytoliths and sponge spicules) and geochemical indicators, H factor = 35 and 3978 citations in the ISI (105 articles) and H = 45 and 7315 citations in Google Scholar (142 articles). He has published 163 articles in national and international journals. Researcher 1B on the CNPq Geosciences Committee. Scientific articles, book chapters and textbooks (in pdf), videos, etc., can be found at: and /atlas-palynologico/.


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How to Cite
SOUZA, José João Lelis Leal et al. VEGETABLE COVERAGE, ANTHROPOGENIC ACTION, AND PALEOCLIMATES IN THE CAATINGA. Mercator, Fortaleza, v. 22, july 2023. ISSN 1984-2201. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 11 dec. 2023. doi: