Climatic and anthropogenic forcing of prehistorical vegetation succession and fire dynamics in the Lago di Como area (N-Italy, Insubria)

Martinelli, Elisa; Michetti, Alessandro Maria; Colombaroli, Daniele; Mazzola, Eleonora; Motella De Carlo, Sila; Livio, Franz; Gilli, Adrian; Ferrario, Maria Francesca; Höbig, Nicole; Brunamonte, Fabio; Castelletti, Lanfredo; Tinner, Willy (2017). Climatic and anthropogenic forcing of prehistorical vegetation succession and fire dynamics in the Lago di Como area (N-Italy, Insubria). Quaternary Science Reviews, 161, pp. 45-67. Pergamon 10.1016/j.quascirev.2017.01.023

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Combined pollen, charcoal and modeling evidence from the Insubria Region suggests that fire was a major driver of late Holocene vegetation change. However, the extent and timing of fire response dynamics are not clear yet. We use lacustrine sediments from Lago di Como (N-Italy, S-Alps) to assess if the reconstructed vegetation and fire dynamics were relevant at large scales and if they coincided in time with those observed at smaller sites. The lake, due to its size (142 km2) and economic potential, was very attractive for early land use and human presence in this area is well documented since ca. 10,000 yrs ago (Mesolithic). We used pollen, plant macrofossils and charcoal to reconstruct the vegetation composition and fire activity. During the Younger Dryas and the Early Holocene until ca. 8000 cal BP natural dynamics prevailed. Subsequently, land use and slash-and-burn activities increased at the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition and became widespread around ca. 6500 cal BP. Microscopic charcoal and numerical analyses demonstrate that anthropogenic fires had a determinant influence on long-term vegetation dynamics at regional scales in Insubria. Microscopic charcoal and pollen and spores indicative of land use show that human pressure intensified after ca. 5300 cal yr BP and even more since ca. 4300 cal yr BP. Our results suggest that important species which disappeared or were strongly reduced by land use and fire (e.g. Abies alba, Tilia, Ulmus) will potentially reestablish in the Lago di Como area and elsewhere in Insubria, if land abandonment initiated in the 1950s will continue

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

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

UniBE Contributor:

Colombaroli, Daniele and Tinner, Willy

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

ISSN:

0277-3791

Publisher:

Pergamon

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

30 May 2017 14:38

Last Modified:

30 May 2017 17:02

Publisher DOI:

10.1016/j.quascirev.2017.01.023

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.97023

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/97023

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