Climate and vegetation dynamics of the Northern Apennines (Italy) during the Late Pleistocene and Holocene

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This study reconstructs the regional vegetation and climate dynamics between the upper Late Pleistoceneand Holocene around Pian del Lago, a coastal mountain marshland located at 831 m asl in westernLiguria (NW-Italy), based on the pollen analysis of a 13 m-long sediment core. The record provided aunique opportunity to study a poorly documented period in northern Italy and across many parts ofsouthwestern Europe. We propose an event stratigraphy based upon the identification of seven interstadials(NAI-7 to NAI-1) spanning the upper Late Pleistocene. The correlation with other terrestrialrecords in Italy, and with Mediterranean marine sequences and the Greenland ice cores, permitted acoherent reconstruction of main environmental changes from >~43,000 cal. BP. Significantly, the pollenrecord indicates the persistence of a mesophilous mountain vegetation cover, mainly composed ofQuercus (deciduous and evergreen), Abies, Fagus and Alnus over the whole time period recorded. At theLast Glacial Maximum (LGM) and during the Late Würm Lateglacial, despite the presence of steppicvegetation composed of Artemisia, woodlands dominated by Pinus, with Abies, Picea, Fagus, Alnus andBetula are present. This forest composition provides an important insight into the history of Picea insouthern Europe and Late Pleistocene refugia for mesophilous species. During the Early Holocene, Pinusis first replaced by Abies and then by deciduous Quercus and mixed temperate species as the dominantforest component. Both arboreal and herbaceous anthropogenic pollen indicators only make theirappearance during the Late Holocene, attesting to the increasing importance of human activities.


  • Maria Angela Guido
  • Chiara Molinari
  • Valentina Moneta
  • Nicholas Branch
  • Stuart Black
  • Michael Simmonds
  • Philip Stastney
  • Carlo Montanari
External organisations
  • University of Genoa
  • University of Reading
  • The British Museum
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Physical Geography


  • North-western Italy Late Pleistocene Holocene Pollen analysis Micro-charcoal analysis
Original languageEnglish
Article number106206
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Mar 1
Publication categoryResearch