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Research article2005Peer reviewed

Deglacial vegetation succession and Holocene tree-limit dynamics in the Scandes Mountains, west-central Sweden: stratigraphic data compared to megafossil evidence

Bergman J, Hammarlund D, Hannon G, Barnekow L, Wohlfarth B


High-resolution records of plant macrofossils, magnetic susceptibility, and total carbon content, complemented by pollen data, were obtained from a postglacial lake sediment sequence at alpine Lake Stentjarn (987 m a.s.l.), in west-central Sweden. Holocene vegetational and environmental changes were reconstructed from the data, with particular emphasis on the deglacial establishment of terrestrial vegetation and subsequent tree-limit dynamics. A short-lived pioneer flora with Geum rivale, Dryas octopetala, Empetrum nigrum, Ledum palustre, Saxifraga sp., Salix spp., and Oxyria digyna established locally following deglaciation at c. 10,500 cat year BP. The pioneer flora was out-competed by establishing Betula pubescens and grasses at c. 10,300 cat year BP. Subsequent local expansions of B. pubescens at c. 9800 cat year BP and Pinus sylvestris at c. 9200 cal year BP were followed by a temporary retraction of the birch tree-limit and a permanent retreat of pine between 8500 and 8000 cat year BP, accompanied by declining aquatic productivity and increasing catchment erosion. A gradual decrease in forest density initiated at c. 6000 cat year BP led to a retreat of the birch tree-limit from the lake catchment at c. 3500 cat year BP, followed by persistence of scattered trees until c. 2000 cat year BP. A mosaic heath vegetation dominated by Empetrum nigrum and Betula nana developed at c, 3500 cat year BP. Comparison of the stratigraphic data from Lake Stenljiirn with records of radiocarbon-dated subfossil wood remains (megafossils) obtained from adjacent areas during recent decades revealed a high level of consistency of the inferred tree-limit variations for P. sylvestris, B. pubescens, and Alnus incana. Chronological control was established by radiocarbon dating of terrestrial macrofossils and geochemical identification of a tephra horizon originating from the Icelandic Askja- 1875 eruption. (c) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved


Tree-limit ecotone; macroscopic plant remains; deglacial plant succession; forest history; palaeoclimate; 8200 cal year BP event

Published in

Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology
2005, Volume: 134, number: 3-4, pages: 129-151

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Forest Science

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