Vegetation and fire history of the East-European forest-steppe over the last 14,800 years: A case study from Zamostye, Kursk region, Russia

2022 | journal article. A publication with affiliation to the University of Göttingen.

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​Vegetation and fire history of the East-European forest-steppe over the last 14,800 years: A case study from Zamostye, Kursk region, Russia​
Lukanina, E.; Shumilovskikh, L.   & Novenko, E.​ (2022) 
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology605 art. 111218​.​ DOI: 

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Lukanina, Ekaterina; Shumilovskikh, Lyudmila ; Novenko, Elena
The East-European forest-steppe extends from the Carpathian to the Ural Mountains, representing a mosaic of broadleaf deciduous forest patches and meadow-steppe, where up to 80% of the territory has been converted to croplands. Here we examine the Late Glacial and Holocene history of the forest-steppe of the East European Plain to better understand its sensitivity to climate fluctuations, fire and human impact, and also the timing of its transition into the modern agro-pastoral landscapes. We studied a radiocarbon-dated sediment core from the village of Zamostye (Kursk region, Russia), which provides a continuous record of vegetation change for the last 14,800 years. We conducted an analysis of pollen, non-pollen palynomorphs, loss-on-ignition, macro- and mirco-charcoal and macroremains, and applied a modern analogue technique to the pollen data to reconstruct forest cover. The pollen data reveal high sensitivity of the vegetation in this region to moisture availability caused by the northern hemispheric climate changes and permafrost. The region was occupied by a pine forest-steppe during Bølling/Allerød but transformed into a cold steppe during the GI 1d and Younger Dryas events. Around 11.7 cal kyr BP the climate warming triggered an expansion of birch trees into the steppe but the lack of moisture and strong fire activity hindered the development of pine and broadleaf forests for more than a millennium. Vegetation turnover occurred at ∼10.3 kyr BP, when the vegetation became dominated by pine. Pine and mixed deciduous oak forests continued to dominate through the Middle to Late Holocene reaching their maximal extension by 4.4 cal kyr BP. During the Late Holocene, human impact was detected for the Late Bronze Age, Early Iron Age, Roman period and Early Middle Ages. However, natural forests were recovering after a decrease in human activities. We demonstrate that the forest-steppe of the East European Plain has experienced a total deforestation in the 17th century and has remained open although climate conditions could have allowed the recovery of pine-broadleaf mixed forests.
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Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 
Abteilung Palynologie und Klimadynamik ; Albrecht-von-Haller-Institut für Pflanzenwissenschaften 
Sponsor Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft



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