Holocene vegetation, fire and land use dynamics at Lake Svityaz, an agriculturally marginal site in northwestern Ukraine

Schwörer, Christoph; Gobet, Erika; van Leeuwen, Jacqueline F. N.; Bögli, Sarah; Imboden, Rachel; van der Knaap, W. O.; Kotova, Nadezhda; Makhortykh, Sergej; Tinner, Willy (2021). Holocene vegetation, fire and land use dynamics at Lake Svityaz, an agriculturally marginal site in northwestern Ukraine (In Press). Vegetation History and Archaeobotany Springer 10.1007/s00334-021-00844-z

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Observing natural vegetation dynamics over the entire Holocene is difficult in Central Europe, due to pervasive and increasing human disturbance since the Neolithic. One strategy to minimize this limitation is to select a study site in an area that is marginal for agricultural activity. Here, we present a new sediment record from Lake Svityaz in northwestern Ukraine. We have reconstructed regional and local vegetation and fire dynamics since the Late Glacial using pollen, spores, macrofossils and charcoal. Boreal forest composed of Pinus sylvestris and Betula with continental Larix decidua and Pinus cembra established in the region around 13,450 cal BP, replacing an open, steppic landscape. The first temperate tree to expand was Ulmus at 11,800 cal BP, followed by Quercus, Fraxinus excelsior, Tilia and Corylus ca. 1,000 years later. Fire activity was highest during the Early Holocene, when summer solar insolation reached its maximum. Carpinus betulus and Fagus sylvatica established at ca. 6,000 cal BP, coinciding with the first indicators of agricultural activity in the region and a transient climatic shift to cooler and moister conditions. Human impact on the vegetation remained initially very low, only increasing during the Bronze Age, at ca. 3,400 cal BP. Large-scale forest openings and the establishment of the present-day cultural landscape occurred only during the past 500 years. The persistence of highly diverse mixed forest under absent or low anthropogenic disturbance until the Early Middle Ages corroborates the role of human impact in the impoverishment of temperate forests elsewhere in Central Europe. The preservation or reestablishment of such diverse forests may mitigate future climate change impacts, specifically by lowering fire risk under warmer and drier conditions.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)
10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Palaeoecology

UniBE Contributor:

Schwörer, Christoph; Gobet, Erika; van Leeuwen, Jacqueline; Imboden, Rachel; van der Knaap, Pim and Tinner, Willy

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

ISSN:

0939-6314

Publisher:

Springer

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

02 Aug 2021 11:36

Last Modified:

02 Aug 2021 11:36

Publisher DOI:

10.1007/s00334-021-00844-z

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Biodiversity; Climate change; Human impact; Macrofossils; Palaeoecology; Pollen analysis

BORIS DOI:

10.48350/157693

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/157693

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