Geomorphological evidence and Pleistocene refugia in Africa

Janet Elizabeth Nichol

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


New geomorphological evidence from satellite images is interpreted in the light of recent work on Quaternary desert advance in West and Central Africa to suggest that regions currently supporting tropical lowland rain forest were during the Quaternary period, covered by windblown sand in the form of linear desert dunes. The evidence suggests that the last glacial advance at approximately 18kyr BP was not the most extensive and that the Sahara, like the Kalahari, extended to within one or two degrees of the Equator during the Quaternary period. Thus the southern limit of fossil dunes at the West African coast is not a climatic limit. Since desert dunes indicate the minimum former extent of desert conditions, the findings have implications for Pleistocene refugia in Africa and may explain both the relative paucity and high degree of endemism observed among African biota.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-89
Number of pages11
JournalGeographical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1999


  • Central Africa
  • Fossil dunes
  • Quaternary
  • Rain forest
  • Refugia
  • West Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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