Folia Geobotanica

, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 241–258 | Cite as

Recent vegetation history of the North Adriatic grasslands: Expansion and decay of an anthropogenic habitat

  • Mitja Kaligarič
  • Metka Culiberg
  • Branko Kramberger


A summary pollen diagram and old cartographic materials were used to reconstruct the recent vegetation history and trends of temporal dynamics of the North Adriatic Karst grasslands. Before the Roman period some evidence about grassland vegetation exists from Neolithic settlements, but deforestation, detectable on the landscape level because of pollen, started 2500-2000 years BP. A large-scale anthropogenically-driven process of clearance started in the Roman period as is reflected in the increasing pollen of grasses (Poaceae) and other herbaceous species (Apiaceae). The presence of pioneer trees (Quercus, Ostrya), juniper and grasses during 1000-400 years BP suggests that cycling processes of cultivation (strong grazing pressure), abandonment and re-cultivation were present. A 250-year-old map shows a peak of probable deforestation, where grasslands have 3.2 times larger surface area than on a recent land-use map in a 665.8 km2 large pilot area. More than 60% of grasslands changed into forest since then. On a sub-plot area of 626 ha (1% of the pilot area), where habitat mappings were performed, only 12.8% were still grasslands without tall herb invasions or scrub encroachments. Another 27.1% were grasslands with early signs of reforestation. The traditionally open landscape of the North Adriatic Karst was able to recover to forest due to almost total abandonment and sufficient mesic climate conditions.


Habitat mapping Karst grasslands Land cover Pollen diagrams Reforestation Temporal dynamics 


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Copyright information

© Institute of Botany, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mitja Kaligarič
    • 1
  • Metka Culiberg
    • 2
  • Branko Kramberger
    • 3
  1. 1.PeF, Biology DepartmentUniversity of MariborMariborSlovenia
  2. 2.Jovan Hadzi Institute of BiologySRC SASALjubljanaSlovenia
  3. 3.Faculty of AgricultureUniversity of MariborMariborSlovenia

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