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Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 315–334 | Cite as

Early–Middle Holocene vegetation history, climate change and human activities at Lago Riane (Ligurian Apennines, NW Italy)

  • Nicholas P. Branch
Original Article

Abstract

The radiocarbon-dated palaeoecological study of Lago Riane (Ligurian Apennines, NW Italy) presented here forms part of a wider investigation into the relationships between Holocene vegetation succession, climate change and human activities in the northern Apennines. The record of vegetation history from Lago Riane indicates that, since the end of the last glaciation, climate change and prehistoric human activities, combined with several local factors, have strongly influenced the pattern and timing of natural vegetation succession. The pollen record indicates an important change in vegetation cover at Lago Riane at ~8500–8200 cal. years b.p., coincident with a well-known period of rapid climate change. At ~6100 cal. years b.p., Fagus woodland colonised Lago Riane during a period of climate change and expansion of Late Neolithic human activities in the upland zone of Liguria. A marked decline in Abies woodland, and the expansion of Fagus woodland, at ~4700 cal. years b.p., coincided with further archaeological evidence for pastoralism in the mountains of Liguria during the Copper Age. At ~3900–3600 cal. years b.p. (Early to Middle Bronze Age transition), a temporary expansion of woodland at Lago Riane has been provisionally attributed to a decline in human pressure on the environment during a period of short-term climate change.

Keywords

Holocene Vegetation history Climate change Human activities Fagus Abies 

Notes

Acknowledgments

A number of colleagues are thanked for their generous support: John Lowe, Roberto Maggi, Carlo Montanari, Mariangela Guido, Diego Moreno, Matt Canti, Jean-Luc Schwenninger, Rob Batchelor, Dan Young and Nathalie Marini. The Parco Naturale Regionale dell’Aveto (Liguria) are thanked for their kind permission to work at Lago Riane. I would also like to thank the two anonymous referees for their helpful comments on the text.

Supplementary material

334_2012_384_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (468 kb)
Supplementary material 1 Full pollen diagram from Lago Riane (pollen values expressed as a % of total land pollen) (PDF 468 kb)

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography and Environmental Science and Department of Archaeology, School of Human and Environmental SciencesUniversity of ReadingReadingUK

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