Vegetation and fire history of coastal north-eastern Sardinia (Italy) under changing Holocene climates and land use

Beffa, Giorgia Zoe; Pedrotta, Tiziana; Colombaroli, Daniele; Henne, Paul Daniel; van Leeuwen, Jacqueline; Süsstrunk, Pascal; Boltshauser-Kaltenrieder, Petra; Adolf, Carole; Vogel, Hendrik; Pasta, Salvatore; Anselmetti, Flavio; Gobet, Erika; Tinner, Willy (2016). Vegetation and fire history of coastal north-eastern Sardinia (Italy) under changing Holocene climates and land use. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, 25(3), pp. 271-289. Springer 10.1007/s00334-015-0548-5

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Little is known about the vegetation and fire history of Sardinia, and especially the long-term history of the thermo-Mediterranean belt that encompasses its entire coastal lowlands. A new sedimentary record from a coastal lake based on pollen, spores, macrofossils and microscopic charcoal analysis is used to reconstruct the vegetation and fire history in north-eastern Sardinia. During the mid-Holocene (c. 8,100–5,300 cal bp), the vegetation around Stagno di Sa Curcurica was characterised by dense Erica scoparia and E. arborea stands, which were favoured by high fire activity. Fire incidence declined and evergreen broadleaved forests of Quercus ilex expanded at the beginning of the late Holocene. We relate the observed vegetation and fire dynamics to climatic change, specifically moister and cooler summers and drier and milder winters after 5,300 cal bp. Agricultural activities occurred since the Neolithic and intensified after c. 7,000 cal bp. Around 2,750 cal bp, a further decline of fire incidence and Erica communities occurred, while Quercus ilex expanded and open-land communities became more abundant. This vegetation shift coincided with the historically documented beginning of Phoenician period, which was followed by Punic and Roman civilizations in Sardinia. The vegetational change at around 2,750 cal bp was possibly advantaged by a further shift to moister and cooler summers and drier and milder winters. Triggers for climate changes at 5,300 and 2,750 cal bp may have been gradual, orbitally-induced changes in summer and winter insolation, as well as centennial-scale atmospheric reorganizations. Open evergreen broadleaved forests persisted until the twentieth century, when they were partly substituted by widespread artificial pine plantations. Our results imply that highly flammable Erica vegetation, as reconstructed for the mid-Holocene, could re-emerge as a dominant vegetation type due to increasing drought and fire, as anticipated under global change conditions.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences
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:

Beffa, Giorgia Zoe; Pedrotta, Tiziana; Colombaroli, Daniele; Henne, Paul Daniel; van Leeuwen, Jacqueline; Süsstrunk, Pascal; Boltshauser-Kaltenrieder, Petra; Adolf, Carole; Vogel, Hendrik; Anselmetti, Flavio; Gobet, Erika and Tinner, Willy

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)
500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology

ISSN:

0939-6314

Publisher:

Springer

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

11 Mar 2016 14:49

Last Modified:

19 Oct 2016 16:11

Publisher DOI:

10.1007/s00334-015-0548-5

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Mediterranean; Erica scoparia and E. arborea; Quercus ilex forests; Pollen; Macrofossils; Charcoal

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.77031

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/77031

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