Climatic and human impacts on mountain vegetation at Lauenensee (Bernese Alps, Switzerland) during the last 14,000 years

Rey, Fabian; Schwörer, Christoph; Gobet, Erika; Colombaroli, Daniele; van Leeuwen, Jacqueline F. N.; Schleiss, Silke; Tinner, Willy (2013). Climatic and human impacts on mountain vegetation at Lauenensee (Bernese Alps, Switzerland) during the last 14,000 years. Holocene, 23(10), pp. 1415-1427. Los Angeles, Calif.: Sage 10.1177/0959683613489585

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Lake sediments from Lauenensee (1381 m a.s.l.), a small lake in the Bernese Alps, were analysed to reconstruct the vegetation and fire history. The chronology is based on 11 calibrated radiocarbon dates on terrestrial plant macrofossils suggesting a basal age of 14,200 cal. BP. Pollen and macrofossil data imply that treeline never reached the lake catchment during the Bølling–Allerød interstadial. Treeline north of the Alps was depressed by c. 300 altitudinal meters, if compared with southern locations. We attribute this difference to colder temperatures and to unbuffered cold air excursions from the ice masses in northern Europe. Afforestation started after the Younger Dryas at 11,600 cal. BP. Early-Holocene tree-Betula and Pinus sylvestris forests were replaced by Abies alba forests around 7500 cal. BP. Continuous high-resolution pollen and macrofossil series allow quantitative assessments of vegetation dynamics at 5900–5200 cal. BP (first expansion of Picea abies, decline of Abies alba) and 4100–2900 cal. BP (first collapse of Abies alba). The first signs of human activity became noticeable during the late Neolithic c. 5700–5200 cal. BP. Cross-correlation analysis shows that the expansion of Alnus viridis and the replacement of Abies alba by Picea abies after c. 5500 cal. BP was most likely a consequence of human disturbance. Abies alba responded very sensitively to a combination of fire and grazing disturbance. Our results imply that the current dominance of Picea abies in the upper montane and subalpine belts is a consequence of anthropogenic activities through the millennia.

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)

Graduate School:

Graduate School of Climate Sciences

UniBE Contributor:

Rey, Fabian; Schwörer, Christoph; Gobet, Erika; Colombaroli, Daniele; van Leeuwen, Jacqueline and Tinner, Willy

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

ISSN:

0959-6836

Publisher:

Sage

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

07 Dec 2013 00:27

Last Modified:

20 Apr 2015 11:43

Publisher DOI:

10.1177/0959683613489585

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.38694

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/38694

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