Vegetation dynamics and anthropogenically forced changes in the Estanilles peat bog (southern Pyrenees) during the last seven millennia

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Abstract

Estanilles peat bog, located in the northeastern Iberian peninsula, was studied to determine the anthropogenic changes in the landscape over the past seven millennia. The pollen diagram and sedimentary charcoal analyses from this site permit us to reconstruct the landscape changes in an area of both Mediterranean and Atlantic influence. In addition, Montarenyo ombrotrophic peat bog was studied to strengthen the analysis of data from more recent centuries. This paper attempts a reconstruction of historical cultural landscapes using two complementary palaeobotanical proxies (pollen and charcoal) in high mountain environments. The macroscopic charcoal record shows a fire signal since 7500 cal. b. p. However, the relationship between fire frequency and human impact is not always linear. This divergence is linked to fuel availability and fire activity. Fire has been used repeatedly to clear ground and to maintain open areas, and has been a key tool for the management of these high mountain areas. The intensity of use of the landscape implies the expansion of agricultural areas into higher altitudes, including cereal cultivation above 2,200 m a. s. l., during the Middle Ages. The first clear human influence detected in the pollen percentage data is recorded between 6000 and 7000 cal. b. p. and, until present times, the greatest changes in vegetation and landscape history occurred during periods of particular specialization in socioeconomic activities during the Middle Ages. © 2012 Springer-Verlag.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-396
JournalVegetation History and Archaeobotany
Volume21
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2012

Keywords

  • Anthropic action
  • Fire
  • Holocene
  • Pollen
  • Pyrenees
  • Sedimentary charcoal

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