Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 17, Issue 6, pp 653–666 | Cite as

The late Holocene palaeoecological sequence of Serranía de las Villuercas (southern Meseta, western Spain)

  • Graciela Gil-Romera
  • Mercedes García Antón
  • Juan A. Calleja
Original Article


New pollen results and radiocarbon dating from a valley mire in south-western Spain are presented. This is a region where few palaeoecological records have been preserved and the sequence yields important new palaeobotanical evidence for the late Holocene. The landscape is shown as having been largely open woodland, but more wooded than at present. The vegetation history of the last four millennia in these montane territories of south-western Iberia is discussed in the light of anthropogenic indicators, archaeological and documentary archives; fire incidence and climate change. Alnus is the predominant pollen type, although a decline is noted during the last couple of centuries. Its presence is connected with local topography behaving as a phreatophyte, that is, a plant which obtains a significant amount of water from the zone of saturated soil. A framework is also provided for the age and ecological dynamics of some major woodland taxa—Betula, Corylus, Ilex, evergreen and deciduous oaks, Ericaceae and Pinus. In addition, the natural status of several pollen taxa and local trends in biodiversity are discussed. We consider that the results of our work will have important implications for the understanding of the vegetation history in a floristically very rich area, with a noticeable diversity of woody taxa, and a relatively well preserved ecosystem structure.


Palynology Late Holocene Western Iberian Peninsula Woodland Human landscapes 



G. Gil-Romera held a Spanish Government doctoral grant (AP2002-023) during the development of this work and the study has been funded by the Science Ministry projects: REN 2003-02499-GLO, CICYT BOS2000-0149, and the Séneca Foundation project 369 PI/0. We would like to thank Miguel Sevilla-Callejo for his help with the GIS and art work and Brian Chase for an early revision of this paper. We also thank the important improvements suggested by two anonymous referees.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Graciela Gil-Romera
    • 1
  • Mercedes García Antón
    • 1
  • Juan A. Calleja
    • 1
  1. 1.Dpto. Biología (Botánica)Universidad Autónoma de MadridMadridSpain

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