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Holocene environmental change in a montane region of southern Europe with a long history of human settlement

AuthorsCarrión, José S.; Fuentes, Noemí; González-Sampériz, Penélope CSIC ORCID ; Sánchez Quirante, L.; Finlayson, Clive; Fernández, Santiago; Andrade, A.
Issue DateJun-2007
CitationQuaternary Science Reviews 26(11-12): 1455-1475 (2007)
AbstractThis paper uses a palynological sequence to examine the Holocene (8390–160 cal yr BP) environmental history of the Sierra de Baza (Granada, southeastern Spain) with the goal of establishing the mechanisms exerting control over vegetation change. During the period ca 8390–6320 cal yr BP, Pinus dominated the pollen spectra, indicating a forested landscape over the high-elevation areas of the Sierra. From ca 6320–3800 cal yr BP, an expansion of deciduous oaks and other broad-leaf trees took place. After an optimum around 5800–5600 cal yr BP, mesophytes decreased in the 3800–2560 cal yr BP interval while a fire-prone scrub became established. The main loss of forest accompanied the spread of thorny matorral after ca 2560 cal yr BP. Overall, this mountain region has shown itself to be sensitive to a range of influences, among which a continental climate that has become increasingly arid over the last 5000 years, the scarcity of soils suitable for cultivation, a geology that includes sources of copper and other metals and, especially, the incidence of grazing as well as the repeated appearance of fires during the last 4000 years, are highlighted. The history of the vegetation of the Sierra de Baza seems clearly influenced by changes in local economy. Here we discuss how ecological transitions have interacted with cultural changes, with emphasis on the locally highly populated Chalcolithic (5700–4400 cal yr BP) and Argaric (4400–3550 cal yr BP) periods, as well as the Iberian period (3200–2220 cal yr BP). The sierra was abandoned during the Iberian Period which was, paradoxically, when the highest human impact on mountain vegetation is noticeable.
Description21 páginas, 8 figuras, 1 tabla.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2007.03.013
Appears in Collections:(IPE) Artículos
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