Vegetation response to rapid climate change during the Lateglacial-Early Holocene transition at Gola di Lago, southern Switzerland

Höhn, Laura; Leunda, Maria; Gobet, Erika; Tinner, Willy; Schwörer, Christoph (2022). Vegetation response to rapid climate change during the Lateglacial-Early Holocene transition at Gola di Lago, southern Switzerland. Boreas Wiley-Blackwell 10.1111/bor.12578

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Predicting the effects of ongoing climate warming on vegetation requires a long-term perspective of past ecosystem dynamics. We therefore analysed the sedimentary record from the mire Gola di Lago (985 m a.s.l.) in southern Switzerland, to better understand the vegetation response to past rapid climate change. We present a high-resolution pollen and plant macrofossil study from the Lateglacial to the Early Holocene (13 400-10 400 cal. a BP), a climatic transition that represents a close analogue to current global warming. The vegetation responses during this time match previously analysed palaeoecological sites south of the Alps. At the end of the Bolling-Allerod interstadial, the site was surrounded by open larch forest. The beginning of the Younger Dryas was characterized by the local presence and rapid expansion of Pinus cembra, whereas the second part was dominated by Pinus sylvestris, Betula and Larix decidua. These vegetation dynamics agree well with independent climate data indicating a cold and dry start and a subsequent shift to slightly warmer climate. The following rapid temperature increase at the beginning of the Holocene resulted in an increase in forest density and the establishment of novel temperate vegetation assemblages, without major changes in species diversity. Noteworthy, during the Younger Dryas-Early Holocene transition, long-lived cold-adapted tree line species such as P. cembra and L. decidua persisted over several centuries, while open boreal forests dominated by P. sylvestris and Betula expanded, indicating high resilience to climatic changes. The results of Gola di Lago suggest that climate warming led to a significant change in vegetation communities through species range shifts. Our study also indicates that some species may potentially be able to locally persist under current global warming, forming novel vegetation assemblages with newly establishing species.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

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

UniBE Contributor:

Höhn, Laura Valentina; Leunda Esnaola, Maria; Gobet, Erika; Tinner, Willy and Schwörer, Christoph

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

ISSN:

0300-9483

Publisher:

Wiley-Blackwell

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

24 Feb 2022 16:01

Last Modified:

01 Apr 2022 18:51

Publisher DOI:

10.1111/bor.12578

BORIS DOI:

10.48350/165187

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/165187

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