Mid-holocene vegetation and climatic history of the iberian peninsula

Ramon Pérez-Obiol, Guy Jalut, Ramon Julià, Albert Pèlachs, Ma José Iriarte, Thierry Otto, Begoña Hernández-Beloqui

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121 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this research is to study the climate and vegetation history in the western Mediterranean, in the Iberian Peninsula, during the middle Holocene through pollen analysis. The origin of the deposits varied from the most xeric to more mesic Mediterranean environments. The timing, extent, and progress of the establishment of the Mediterranean climate have a degree of variability depending on the biogeographical region. Analyses of several pollen sequences reveal climatic transformations in the flora and vegetation between 7000 and 4000 cal. yr BP. Pollen concentrations have been used in some sequences to evaluate the order of magnitude in biomass changes through time. Three main spatial and taxonomic responses could be assumed: (1) in littoral regions, deciduous broadleaf trees were frequently dominant and then replaced by sclerophyllous and evergreen forests; (2) in continental regions and sub-Mediterranean mountains, the dominance of pine throughout the whole Holocene signals a change of less magnitude; and (3) in southeastern semiarid Mediterranean regions, the main changes are reflected by alternation between steppe and shrub communities. The emplacement of the Mediterranean climate is reflected in an aridification process. A temporal first approach of Holocene climatic changes is proposed: a humid phase (12 000-7000 cal. yr BP), a transition phase (7000-5500 cal. yr BP) and an aridification phase (5500 cal. yr BP-Present). According to archaeological data, natural changes in the forests favoured the environments suitable for human settlements, farming and sheepherding. © The Author(s) 2011.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-93
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011


  • Holocene
  • Iberian Peninsula
  • Mediterranean
  • climate change
  • pollen analysis
  • semi-arid


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