Untangling a Holocene pollen record with forest model simulations and independent climate data

Lischke, Heike; Lotter, André F.; Fischlin, Andreas (2002). Untangling a Holocene pollen record with forest model simulations and independent climate data. Ecological Modelling, 150(1-2), pp. 1-21. Elsevier 10.1016/S0304-3800(02)00013-3

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Adaptation potential of forests to rapid climatic changes can be assessed from vegetation dynamics during past climatic changes as preserved in fossil pollen data. However, pollen data reflect the integrated effects of climate and biotic processes, such as establishment, survival, competition, and migration. To disentangle these processes, we compared an annually laminated late Würm and Holocene pollen record from the Central Swiss Plateau with simulations of a dynamic forest patch model. All input data used in the simulations were largely independent from pollen data; i.e. the presented analysis is non-circular. Temperature and precipitation scenarios were based on reconstructions from pollen-independent sources. The earliest arrival times of the species at the study site after the last glacial were inferred from pollen maps. We ran a series of simulations under different combinations of climate and immigration scenarios. In addition, the sensitivity of the simulated presence/absence of four major species to changes in the climate scenario was examined. The pattern of the pollen record could partly be explained by the used climate scenario, mostly by temperature. However, some features, in particular the absence of most species during the late Würm could only be simulated if the winter temperature anomalies of the used scenario were decreased considerably. Consequently, we had to assume in the simulations, that most species immigrated during or after the Younger Dryas (12 000 years BP), Abies and Fagus even later. Given the timing of tree species immigration, the vegetation was in equilibrium with climate during long periods, but responded with lags at the time-scale of centuries to millennia caused by a secondary succession after rapid climatic changes such as at the end of Younger Dryas, or immigration of dominant taxa. Climate influenced the tree taxa both directly and indirectly by changing inter-specific competition. We concluded, that also during the present fast climatic change, species migration might be an important process, particularly if geographic barriers, such as the Alps are in the migrational path.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


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:

Lotter, André F.


500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)








Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

18 Dec 2015 09:43

Last Modified:

18 Dec 2015 09:43

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Forest modeling, Holocene, Pollen data, Climate change, Vegetation adaptation, Tree species migration, Competition, Sensitivity analysis





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