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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Spatially Continuous Land-Cover Reconstructions Through the Holocene in Southern Sweden

O'Dwyer, Robert; Marquer, Laurent; Trondman, Anna-Kari; Jonsson, Anna Maria


Climate change and human activities influence the development of ecosystems, with human demand of ecosystem services altering both land use and land cover. Fossil pollen records provide time series of vegetation characteristics, and the aim of this study was to create spatially continuous reconstructions of land cover through the Holocene in southern Sweden. The Landscape Reconstruction Algorithm (LRA) was applied to obtain quantitative reconstructions of pollen-based vegetation cover at local scales, accounting for pollen production, dispersal, and deposition mechanisms. Pollen-based local vegetation estimates were produced from 41 fossil pollen records available for the region. A comparison of 17 interpolation methods was made and evaluated by comparing with current land cover. Simple kriging with cokriging using elevation was selected to interpolate the local characteristics of past land cover, to generate more detailed reconstructions of trends and degree of variability in time and space than previous studies based on pollen data representing the regional scale. Since the Mesolithic, two main processes have acted to reshape the land cover of southern Sweden, originally mostly covered by broad-leaved forests. The natural distribution limit of coniferous forest has moved southward during periods with colder climate and retracted northward during warmer periods, and human expansion in the area and agrotechnological developments has led to a gradually more open landscape, reaching maximum openness at the beginning of the 20th century. The recent intensification of agriculture has led to abandonment of less fertile agricultural fields and afforestation with conifer forest.


Landscape Reconstruction Algorithm; Fossil pollen; Ecosystem services; Land cover; Southern Sweden; Interpolation methods

Published in

2021, Volume: 24, number: 6, pages: 1450-1467
Publisher: SPRINGER

    Sustainable Development Goals

    Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

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