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Europe's lost forests : A pollen-based synthesis for the last 11,000 years

Roberts, N.; Fyfe, R. M.; Woodbridge, J.; Gaillard, M. J.; Davis, B. A.S.; Kaplan, J. O. LU ; Marquer, L. LU ; Mazier, F. LU ; Nielsen, A. B. LU and Sugita, S., et al. (2018) In Scientific Reports 8(1).
Abstract

8000 years ago, prior to Neolithic agriculture, Europe was mostly a wooded continent. Since then, its forest cover has been progressively fragmented, so that today it covers less than half of Europe's land area, in many cases having been cleared to make way for fields and pasture-land. Establishing the origin of Europe's current, more open land-cover mosaic requires a long-term perspective, for which pollen analysis offers a key tool. In this study we utilise and compare three numerical approaches to transforming pollen data into past forest cover, drawing on >1000 14C-dated site records. All reconstructions highlight the different histories of the mixed temperate and the northern boreal forests, with the former declining... (More)

8000 years ago, prior to Neolithic agriculture, Europe was mostly a wooded continent. Since then, its forest cover has been progressively fragmented, so that today it covers less than half of Europe's land area, in many cases having been cleared to make way for fields and pasture-land. Establishing the origin of Europe's current, more open land-cover mosaic requires a long-term perspective, for which pollen analysis offers a key tool. In this study we utilise and compare three numerical approaches to transforming pollen data into past forest cover, drawing on >1000 14C-dated site records. All reconstructions highlight the different histories of the mixed temperate and the northern boreal forests, with the former declining progressively since ∼6000 years ago, linked to forest clearance for agriculture in later prehistory (especially in northwest Europe) and early historic times (e.g. in north central Europe). In contrast, extensive human impact on the needle-leaf forests of northern Europe only becomes detectable in the last two millennia and has left a larger area of forest in place. Forest loss has been a dominant feature of Europe's landscape ecology in the second half of the current interglacial, with consequences for carbon cycling, ecosystem functioning and biodiversity.

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Scientific Reports
volume
8
issue
1
publisher
Nature Publishing Group
external identifiers
  • scopus:85040794080
ISSN
2045-2322
DOI
10.1038/s41598-017-18646-7
language
English
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yes
id
561e4cb4-2f70-4ee5-9037-3d1cd36d12d1
date added to LUP
2018-01-30 07:12:09
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2018-01-30 07:12:09
@article{561e4cb4-2f70-4ee5-9037-3d1cd36d12d1,
  abstract     = {<p>8000 years ago, prior to Neolithic agriculture, Europe was mostly a wooded continent. Since then, its forest cover has been progressively fragmented, so that today it covers less than half of Europe's land area, in many cases having been cleared to make way for fields and pasture-land. Establishing the origin of Europe's current, more open land-cover mosaic requires a long-term perspective, for which pollen analysis offers a key tool. In this study we utilise and compare three numerical approaches to transforming pollen data into past forest cover, drawing on &gt;1000 <sup>14</sup>C-dated site records. All reconstructions highlight the different histories of the mixed temperate and the northern boreal forests, with the former declining progressively since ∼6000 years ago, linked to forest clearance for agriculture in later prehistory (especially in northwest Europe) and early historic times (e.g. in north central Europe). In contrast, extensive human impact on the needle-leaf forests of northern Europe only becomes detectable in the last two millennia and has left a larger area of forest in place. Forest loss has been a dominant feature of Europe's landscape ecology in the second half of the current interglacial, with consequences for carbon cycling, ecosystem functioning and biodiversity.</p>},
  articleno    = {716},
  author       = {Roberts, N. and Fyfe, R. M. and Woodbridge, J. and Gaillard, M. J. and Davis, B. A.S. and Kaplan, J. O. and Marquer, L. and Mazier, F. and Nielsen, A. B. and Sugita, S. and Trondman, A. K. and Leydet, M.},
  issn         = {2045-2322},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {12},
  number       = {1},
  publisher    = {Nature Publishing Group},
  series       = {Scientific Reports},
  title        = {Europe's lost forests : A pollen-based synthesis for the last 11,000 years},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-18646-7},
  volume       = {8},
  year         = {2018},
}