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Garcin, Yannick; Deschamps, Pierre; Ménot, Guillemette; de Saulieu, Geoffroy; Schefuß, Enno; Sebag, David; Dupont, Lydie M; Oslisly, Richard; Brademann, Brian; Mbusnum, Kevin G; Onana, Jean-Michel; Ako, Andrew A; Epp, Laura Saskia; Tjallingii, Rik; Strecker, Manfred R; Brauer, Achim; Sachse, Dirk (2018): Plant-waxes hydrogen and carbon isotopic composition and pollen data of sediment core B14 (Lake Barombi). PANGAEA,, Supplement to: Garcin, Y et al. (2018): Early anthropogenic impact on Western Central African rainforests 2,600 y ago. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115(13), 3261-3266,

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A potential human footprint on Western Central African rainforests before the Common Era has become the focus of an ongoing controversy. Between 3,000 y ago and 2,000 y ago, regional pollen sequences indicate a replacement of mature rainforests by a forest-savannah mosaic including pioneer trees. Although some studies suggested an anthropogenic influence on this forest fragmentation, current interpretations based on pollen data attribute the ''rainforest crisis'' to climate change toward a drier, more seasonal climate. A rigorous test of this hypothesis, however, requires climate proxies independent of vegetation changes. Here we resolve this controversy through a continuous 10,500-y record of both vegetation and hydrological changes from Lake Barombi in Southwest Cameroon based on changes in carbon and hydrogen isotope compositions of plant waxes. d13C-inferred vegetation changes confirm a prominent and abrupt appearance of C4 plants in the Lake Barombi catchment, at 2,600 calendar years before AD 1950 (cal y BP), followed by an equally sudden return to rainforest vegetation at 2,020 cal y BP. dD values from the same plant wax compounds, however, show no simultaneous hydrological change. Based on the combination of these data with a comprehensive regional archaeological database we provide evidence that humans triggered the rainforest fragmentation 2,600 y ago. Our findings suggest that technological developments, including agricultural practices and iron metallurgy, possibly related to the large-scale Bantu expansion, significantly impacted the ecosystems before the Common Era.
Latitude: 4.660000 * Longitude: 9.405000
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