Vegetation Changes and Timberline Fluctuations in the Central Alps as Indicators of Holocene Climatic Oscillations

Wick, Lucia; Tinner, Willy (1997). Vegetation Changes and Timberline Fluctuations in the Central Alps as Indicators of Holocene Climatic Oscillations. Arctic and Alpine Research, 29(4), pp. 445-458. INSTAAR, University of Colorado 10.2307/1551992

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Pollen and plant-macrofossil data are presented for two lakes near the timberline in the Italian (Lago Basso, 2250 m) and Swiss Central Alps (Gouille Rion, 2343 m). The reforestation at both sites started at 9700-9500 BP with Pinus cembra, Larbc decidua, and Betula. The timberline reached its highest elevation between 8700 and 5000 BP and retreated after 5000 BP, due to a mid-Holocene climatic change and increasing human impact since about 3500 BP (Bronze Age). The expansion of Picea abies at Lago Basso between ca. 7500 and 6200 BP was probably favored by cold phases accompanied by increased oceanicity, whereas in the area of Gouille Rion, where spruce expanded rather late (between 4500 and 3500 BP), human influence equally might have been important. The mass expansion of Alnus viridis between ca. 5000 and 3500 BP probably can be related to both climatic change and human activity at timberline. During the early and middle Holocene a series of timberline fluctuations is recorded as declines in pollen and macrofossil concentrations of the major tree species, and as increases in nonarboreal pollen in the pollen percentage diagram of Gouille Rion. Most of ·the periods of low timberline can be correlated by radiocarbon dating with climatic changes in the Alps as indicated by glacier ad­ vances in combination with palynological records, solifluction, and dendrocli­ matical data. Lago Basso and Gouille Rion are the only sites in the Alps showing complete palaeobotanical records of cold phases between 10,000 and 2000 BP with very good time control. The altitudinal range of the Holocene treeline fluc­ tuations caused by climate most likely was not more than 100 to 150 m. A possible correlation of a cold period at ca. 7500-6500 BP (Misox oscil­ lation) in the Alps is made with paleoecological data from North America and Scandinavia and a climatic signal in the GRIP ice core from central Greenland 8200 yr ago (ca. 7400 yr uncal. BP).

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

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:

Tinner, Willy

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

ISSN:

0004-0851

Publisher:

INSTAAR, University of Colorado

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

11 Mar 2016 12:34

Last Modified:

11 Mar 2016 12:34

Publisher DOI:

10.2307/1551992

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.77678

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/77678

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