Holocene changes in vegetation composition in northern Europe: why quantitative pollen-based vegetation reconstructions matter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We present pollen-based reconstructions of the spatio-temporal dynamics of northern European regional vegetation abundance through the Holocene. We apply the Regional Estimates of VEgetation Abundance from Large Sites (REVEALS) model using fossil pollen records from eighteen sites within five modern biomes in the region. The eighteen sites are classified into four time-trajectory types on the basis of principal components analysis of both the REVEALS-based vegetation estimates (RVs) and the pollen percentage (PPs). The four trajectory types are more clearly separated for RVs than PPs. Further, the timing of major Holocene shifts, rates of compositional change, and diversity indices (turnover and evenness) differ between RVs and PPs. The differences are due to the reduction by REVEALS of biases in fossil pollen assemblages caused by different basin size, and inter-taxonomic differences in pollen productivity and dispersal properties. For example, in comparison to the PPs, the RVs show an earlier increase in Corylus and Ulmus in the early-Holocene and a more pronounced increase in grassland and deforested areas since the mid-Holocene. The results suggest that the influence of deforestation and agricultural activities on plant composition and abundance from Neolithic times was stronger than previously inferred from PPs. Relative to PPs, RVs show a more rapid compositional change, a largest decrease in turnover, and less variable evenness in most of northern Europe since 5200 cal yr BP. All these changes are primarily related to the strong impact of human activities on the vegetation. This study demonstrates that RV-based estimates of diversity indices, timing of shifts, and rates of change in reconstructed vegetation provide new insights into the timing and magnitude of major human distribution on Holocene regional, vegetation, feature that are critical in the assessment of human impact on vegetation, land-cover, biodiversity, and climate in the past. (C) Elsevier Ltd.All tights reserved.

Details

Authors
  • Laurent Marquer
  • Marie-Jose Gaillard
  • Shinya Sugita
  • Anna-Kari Trondman
  • Florence Mazier
  • Ralph M. Fyfe
  • Bent Vad Odgaard
  • Teija Alenius
  • H. John B. Birks
  • Anne E. Bjune
  • Joerg Christiansen
  • John Dodson
  • Kevin J. Edwards
  • Thomas Giesecke
  • Ulrike Herzschuh
  • Mihkel Kangur
  • Sebastian Lorenz
  • Anneli Poska
  • Manuela Schult
  • Heikki Seppa
Organisations
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Physical Geography
  • Geology

Keywords

  • Holocene, Human impact, Northern Europe, Pollen, Quantitative regional, plant abundance, Rate of compositional change, REVEALS (Regional, Estimates of VEgetation, Abundance from Large Sites) model, Vegetation, diversity indices
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-216
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Volume90
StatePublished - 2014
Peer-reviewedYes