PMIP 2 Mega-Biome Maps For The Mid-Holocene And Last Glacial Maximum


Data description

Most dynamic vegetation models (DGVMs) simulate far fewer PFTs, and hence discriminate far fewer biomes, than the palaeodata allow. In order to facilitate direct comparison with model output, we have grouped the observed biomes into broader units (mega-biomes) on the basis of their structure and functioning. The table below shows how the observed biomes recognised in Version 4.1 of the BIOME 6000 data set are grouped into mega-biomes. If you wish to use this version of the data set, please cite Harrison and Prentice (2003) as the source of the mega-biome classification.

Original biome classification Mega-biome classification
Tropical evergreen broadleaf forest Tropical forest
Tropical semi-evergreen broadleaf forest
Tropical deciduous broadleaf forest and woodland
Warm-temperate evergreen broadleaf and mixed forest Warm-temperate forest
Warm-temperate evergreen broadleaf forest
Warm-temperate rainforest
Wet sclerophyll forest
Cool evergreen needleleaf forest Temperate forest
Cool mixed forest
Cool-temperate rainforest
Cool-temperate evergreen needleleaf and mixed forest
Temperate evergreen needleleaf forest
Temperate deciduous broadleaf forest
Cold deciduous forest Boreal forest
Cold evergreen needleleaf forest
Temperate sclerophyll woodland and shrubland Savanna and dry woodland
Temperate evergreen needleleaf open woodland
Tropical savanna
Temperate deciduous broadleaf savanna
Tropical xerophytic shrubland Grassland and dry shrubland
Temperate xerophytic shrubland
Tropical grassland
Temperate grassland
Xerophytic woods/scrub
Temperate grassland and xerophytic shrubland
Desert Desert
Graminoid and forb tundra Dry tundra
Cushion-forb tundra (cushion forb, lichen and moss tundra) Tundra
Erect dwarf-shrub tundra
Low and high shrub tundra
Prostrate dwarf-shrub tundra
Alpine grassland

(Click on the figure to get a bigger version)

Data download

Full size image (179 Kb)
pdf file (7.4 Mb)
Data file - zipped Excel file (1.0 Mb)

If you wish to use this global data set, you should cite Prentice et al. (2000), Harrison et al. (2001), Bigelow et al. (2003) and Pickett et al. (2004) as the sources of the original data, and the following website ( as the source for the homogenised nomenclature. If you wish to use only regional subsets of the data, you should cite the appropriate regional reference (as given in the table below), and the above website as the source for the homogenised nomenclature.


  1. Harrison, S. P., and Prentice, I. C. (2003 - in press). Climate and CO2 controls on global vegetation distribution at the last glacial maximum: analysis based on palaeovegetation data, biome modeling and palaeoclimate simulations. Global Change Biology.

FUTURE UPDATES, coming early 2005

New data syntheses are currently being produced for three regions:

As soon as these papers are accepted for publication, we will produce a new version of the BIOME 6000 data set (Version 5) and update this website.

Technical queries about the data sets should be addressed to Sandy Harrison or Mark Creighton.

We would like to take this opportunity of thanking the hundreds of palynologists who contributed to the BIOME 6000 compilation directly, or indirectly by providing their data to public-access pollen databases, and to thank IGBP-GAIM for their sponsorship of the project. BIOME 6000 (and its daughter projects) has received funding support from IGBP-GAIM, IGBP-PAGES, IGBP-DIS, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the Swedish Natural Science Research Council (NFR), the Swedish Institute, and the Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry.



  1. Marchant, R. A., Behling, H., Harrison, S. P., Hooghiemstra, H., Markgraf, V., Prentice, I. C., Björck, S., Bush, M., Cleef, A., Colinvaux, P. A., De Oliveira, P. E., Graf, K., Hansen, B. C. S., Heusser, C., Horn, S. P., Ledru, M. P., Leyden, B. W., Lozano-Garcia, M. S., Lorrenzo, S., Moar, N. T., Morenao, P. I., Salgadi-Labouriau, M. L., Schäbitz, F., and Watts, W. A. (submitted). Biome reconstructions from pollen data for Latin America at 18,000, 6000 and 0 14C yr B.P. Journal of Biogeography.

  2. Ni, J., Yu, G., Harrison, S. P., and Prentice, I. C. (submitted). Pollen-based reconstruction of vegetation in China during the mid-Holocene and last glacial maximum using a global scheme of plant functional types. Journal of Vegetation Science.

  3. Pickett, E., Harrison, S. P., Hope, G., Harle, K., Dodson, J. R., Kershaw, A. P., Prentice, I. C., Backhouse, J., Colhoun, E. A., D'Costa, D., Flenley, J., Grindrod, J., Haberle, S., Hassell, C., Kenyon, C., Macphail, M., Martin, H., Martin, A. H., McKenzie, M., Newsome, J. C., Penny, D., Powell, J., Raine, I., Southern, W., Sutra, J.-P., Thomas, I., van der Kaars, S., and Ward, J. (submitted). Pollen-based reconstructions of biome distributions for Australia, South East Asia and the Pacific (SEAPAC region) at 0, 6000 and 18,000 14C yr B.P. Journal of Biogeography.

  4. Sutra, J.-P., Harrison, S. P., Barboni, D., Anuparma, K., Barui, N. C., Bera, S. K., Bhattacharya, K., Bhattacharyya, A., Bonnefille, R., Chauhan, M. S., Farooqui, A., Gupta, A., Khandelwal, A., Sharma, C., Suryaprakash, I., and Yonebayashi, C. (submitted). Application of a global plant functional type scheme to pollen-based reconstruction of modern and fossil biomes for the Indian Subcontinent. Journal of Vegetation Science.

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