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Mann, D.H., 1983

The Quaternary history of the Lituya Glacial Refugium, Alaska

Bibliographic Reference

Mann, D.H., 1983, The Quaternary history of the Lituya Glacial Refugium, Alaska: University of Washington, Seattle, Ph.D. dissertation, 268 p., illust., maps, 9 plates.


Glacial geology, sea level history, analysis of the carabid beetle and spider faunas, as well as palynology are used to reconstruct the paleogeography and biotic history of the Lituya Bay area, southeast Alaska. These investigations serve to test the hypothesis that the Lituya area was a glacial refugium during the last (Wisconsin) ice age. Results show that ice-free land has existed continuously over approximately the last 50,000 years but that a combination of glacier encroachment, marine transgression, and snowline lowering greatly restricted its extent during the late Wisconsin glacial maximum (~18,000 years B.P.). The dispersal characteristics and habitat distribution of modern carabid fauna suggest that an alpine insect fauna probably survived the late Wisconsin times in situ. The post-glacial pollen record suggests that no trees survived in the Lituya ice-free area. The probable small size and cold-adapted nature of the refugial biota suggest that this refugium and others like it have been of little importance in determining modern, regional biogeography. The existence of the Lituya refugium indicates the strong likelihood that other small coastal refugia existed along the northwest coast during the last glacial maximum.

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