Holocene palaeoenvironmental reconstruction based on fossil beetle faunas from the Southern Altai region, north-west China

Tianshu Zhang, Scott A. Elias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present here the results of the first-ever Quaternary entomological research in China. The Halashazi Wetland, located in the southern Altai Mountain region in the northernmost part of Xinjiang Province, yielded Holocene insect fossils (mostly beetles) from two peat profiles. In total, 55 Coleoptera taxa were found, including 37 identified species. A new species, Helophorus sinoglacialis, was identified. The fauna is strongly northern Holarctic in character. The interval from 10 424 to 9705 cal a BP was probably a cold and wet period, and the study site was above the treeline. From 9665 to 9500 cal a BP it was probably warmer and drier, and treeline moved to higher elevations. Following a depositional hiatus, mid-Holocene (5400–4400 cal a BP) insect assemblages represent cold conditions with the site above the treeline. The exception was a brief warming around 5450 cal a BP, when bark beetle evidence suggests that the treeline moved to a higher elevation. Of the 37 identified beetle species from the Halashazi site, 34 (92%) have modern records in Siberia. The Altai Mountains probably served as a dispersal corridor between the Siberian arctic and alpine regions of northern China.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Quaternary Science
Early online date8 Aug 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Aug 2019


  • Altai Mountains
  • Holocene
  • insect fossils

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