Advertisement

Polar Biology

, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 433–441 | Cite as

The biogeographical status of Alnus crispa (Ait.) Pursch in sub-Arctic southern Greenland: Do pollen records indicate local populations during the past 1500 years?

  • Paul M. LedgerEmail author
  • Kevin J. Edwards
  • J. Edward Schofield
Original Paper

Abstract

Phytogeographical studies of south-western Greenland suggest that Alnus crispa is not native to the far south of the island. Palynological investigations dating to the 1970s concluded that this was the case throughout the Holocene, with the regular occurrences of Alnus seen in pollen diagrams from this region explained as the result of long-distance transport of alder pollen from Canada. Recently, macrofossil evidence from an archaeological site in southern Greenland has emerged that indicates that alder was amongst the fuel resources available to the Norse settlers around AD 1000–1400. In light of this discovery, we present data from 13 pollen diagrams produced since 2008 to re-examine the past status of Alnus within southernmost Greenland over the last 1500 years. Only at one site with a very large pollen source area do Alnus pollen frequencies regularly exceed a threshold which may be interpreted as indicating a regional presence for the plant. This pattern is argued to be consistent with the presence of a small but variable regional population of the plant, perhaps restricted in its distribution to the inland district of Vatnahverfi.

Keywords

Alnus crispa Pollen Greenland Norse Eastern Settlement Pollen threshold values Biogeography 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The Leverhulme Trust is thanked for financial support. We also thank the referees for their constructive comments that helped to improve the paper.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research involving human participants and/or animals

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

References

  1. Andersen ST (1970) The relative pollen productivity and pollen representation of North European trees, and correction factors for tree pollen spectra. Dan Geol Unders II 96:1–99Google Scholar
  2. Bennett KD, Birks HJB (1990) The postglacial history of alder (Alnus glutinosa (L.) Gaertn.) in the British Isles. J Quat Sci 5:123–133CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bishop RR, Church MJ, Dugmore AJ, Madsen CK, Møller NA (2013) A charcoal-rich horizon at Ø69, Greenland: evidence for vegetation burning during the Norse landnám? J Archaeol Sci 40:3890–3902CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Böcher TW, Holmen K, Jakobsen K (1968) The flora of Greenland. P. Hasse & Son, CopenhagenGoogle Scholar
  5. Broström A, Nielsen AB, Gaillard M-J, Hjelle K, Mazier F, Binney H, Bunting J, Fyfe R, Meltsov V, Poska A, Räsänen S, Soepboer W, von Stedingk H, Suutari H, Sugita S (2008) Pollen productivity estimates of key European plant taxa for quantitative reconstruction of past vegetation: a review. Veg Hist Archaeobot 17:461–478CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Buckland PC, Edwards KJ, Panagiotakopulu E, Schofield JE (2009) Palaeoecological and historical evidence for manuring and irrigation at Garðar (Igaliku), Norse Eastern Settlement, Greenland. Holocene 19:105–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chen QS, Bromwich DH, Bai LS (1997) Precipitation over Greenland retrieved by a dynamic method and its relation to cyclonic activity. J Climate 10:839–870CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Davis MB (1963) On the theory of pollen analysis. Am J Sci 261:897–912CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Davis MB (2000) Palynology after Y2 K—understanding the source area of pollen in sediments. Annu Rev Earth Planet Sci 28:1–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Edwards KJ, Schofield JE, Mauquoy D (2008) High resolution palaeoenvironmental and chronological investigations of Norse landnám at Tasiusaq, Eastern Settlement, Greenland. Quaternary Res 69:1–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Edwards KJ, Schofield JE, Kirby JR, Cook GT (2011) Problematic but promising ponds? Palaeoenvironmental evidence from the Norse Eastern Settlement of Greenland. J Quat Sci 26:854–865CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Eisner WR, Törnqvist TE, Koster EA, Bennike O (1995) Paleoecological studies of a Holocene lacustrine record from the Kangerlussuaq (Søndre Strømfjord) region of West Greenland. Quat Res 43:55–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Feilberg J (1984) A phytogeographical study of South Greenland. Vascular plants. Medd Grønl Biosci 15:15–69Google Scholar
  14. Fredskild B (1973) Studies in the vegetational history of Greenland. Medd Grønl 198:1–245Google Scholar
  15. Fredskild B (1983) The Holocene vegetational development of the Godthåbsfjord area, West Greenland. Medd Grønl Geosci 10:1–28Google Scholar
  16. Fredskild B (1996) A phytogeographical study of the vascular plants of West Greenland (62°20′–74°00′N). Medd Grønl Biosci 45:1–157Google Scholar
  17. Fredskild B, Ødum S (1990) The Greenland mountain birch zone, an introduction. Medd Grønl Biosci 33:3–7Google Scholar
  18. Gajewski K (1991) Représentation pollinique actuelle á la limite des arbres au Nouveau-Québec. Can J Earth Sci 28:643–648CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gajewski K (2002) Modern pollen assemblages in lake sediments from the Canadian Arctic. Arct Antarct Alp Res 34:26–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gajewski K, Payette S, Ritchie JC (1993) Holocene vegetation history at the boreal-forest–shrub-tundra transition in north-western Québec. J Ecol 81:433–443CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Golding KA, Simpson IA, Schofield JE, Edwards KJ (2011) Norse-Inuit interaction and landscape change in southern Greenland? A geochronological, pedological and palynological investigation. Geoarchaeology 26:1–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Grimm EC (1993) TILIA: a program for analysis and display. Illinois State Museum, SpringfieldGoogle Scholar
  23. Grimm EC (2015) TGView version 2.0.2. http://intra.museum.state.il.us/pub/grimm/. Accessed 5 Jan 2015
  24. Jacobson GL, Bradshaw RHW (1981) The selection of sites for paleovegetational studies. Quat Res 16:80–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Jannsen CR (1973) Local and regional pollen deposition. In: Birks HJB, West RG (eds) Quat plant ecology. Blackwell, London, pp 31–42Google Scholar
  26. Jessen CA, Solignac S, Nørgaard-Pedersen N, Mikkelsen N, Kuijpers A, Seidenkrantz M-S (2011) Exotic pollen as an indicator of variable atmospheric circulation over the Labrador Sea region during the mid to late Holocene. J Quat Sci 26:286–296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kelly M, Funder S (1974) The pollen stratigraphy of late Quaternary lake sediments of South-West Greenland. Grønl Geol Unders Rapp Nr 64:1–26Google Scholar
  28. Krogh KJ (1967) Viking Greenland. National Museum, CopenhagenGoogle Scholar
  29. Laegaard S (1971) In: Nørrevang A, Meyer TJ, Christensen S (eds) Danmarks natur 10: Grønland of Færøerne. Politikens Forlag, Copenhagen, pp 370–377Google Scholar
  30. Ledger PM (2013) Norse landnám and its impact on the vegetation of Vatnahverfi, Eastern Settlement, Greenland. Dissertation, University of AberdeenGoogle Scholar
  31. Ledger PM, Edwards KJ, Schofield JE (2013) Shieling activity in the Norse Eastern Settlement: palaeoenvironment of the ‘Mountain Farm’, Vatnahverfi, Greenland. Holocene 23:810–822CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Ledger PM, Edwards KJ, Schofield JE (2014a) Vatnahverfi: a green and pleasant land? Palaeoecological reconstructions of environmental and land use change. J N Atl Spec 6:29–46Google Scholar
  33. Ledger PM, Edwards KJ, Schofield JE (2014b) A multiple profile approach to the palynological reconstruction of Norse landscapes in Greenland’s Eastern Settlement. Quat Res 82:22–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Ledger PM, Edwards KJ, Schofield JE (2015) Taphonomy or signal sensitivity in palaeoecological investigations of the impact of Norse landnám in Vatnahverfi, southern Greenland? Boreas 44:197–215CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lisitsyna OV, Giesecke T, Hicks S (2011) Exploring pollen percentage threshold values as an indication for the regional presence of major European trees. Rev Palaeobot Palynol 166:311–324CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Malmros C (1994) Exploitation of local, drifted and imported wood by Vikings on the Faroe Islands. Bot J Scotl 46:552–558CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Massa C, Perren BP, Gauthier E, Bichet V, Petit C, Richard H (2012) A multiproxy evaluation of Holocene environmental change from Lake Igaliku, South Greenland. J Paleolimnol 48:241–258CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. May L, Lacourse T (2012) Morphological differentiation of Alnus (alder) pollen from western North America. Rev Palaeobot Palynol 180:15–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Mayle FE, Levesque AJ, Cwynar CJ (1993) Alnus as an indicator taxon of the Younger Dryas cooling in eastern North America. Quat Sci Rev 12:295–305CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Moe D, Odland A (1992) The influence of the temperature climate on the vertical distribution of Alnus incana (Betulaceae) through the Holocene in Norway. Acta Bot Fenn 144:35–49Google Scholar
  41. Morrison A (1970) Pollen diagrams from interior Labrador. Can J Bot 48:1957–1975CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Richard PJH (1994) Postglacial paleophytogeography of the eastern St. Lawrence River Watershed and the climatic signal of the pollen record. Palaeogeogr Palaeocl 109:137–161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Ritchie JC (1987) Postglacial vegetation of Canada. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  44. Rousseau D-D, Schevin P, Duzer D, Cambon G, Ferrier J, Jolly D, Poulsen U (2005) Pollen transport to southern Greenland: new evidences of a late spring long distance transport. Biogeosci Discuss 2:1–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Rousseau D-D, Schevin P, Ferrier J, Jolly D, Andreasen T, Ascanius SE, Hendriksen S-E, Poulsen U (2008) Long-distance pollen transport from North America to Greenland in spring. J Geophys Res 113:1–10Google Scholar
  46. Schofield JE, Edwards KJ (2011) Grazing impacts and woodland management in Eriksfjord: Betula, coprophilous fungi and the Norse settlement of Greenland. Veg Hist Archaeobot 20:181–197CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Schofield JE, Edwards KJ, MacMullen A (2007) Modern pollen-vegetation relationships in subarctic southern Greenland and the interpretation of fossil pollen data from the Norse landnám. J Biogeogr 34:473–488Google Scholar
  48. Schofield JE, Edwards KJ, Christensen C (2008) Environmental impacts around the time of Norse landnám in the Qorlortoq valley, Eastern Settlement, Greenland. J Archaeol Sci 35:1643–1657CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Scoggan HJ (1978) The flora of Canada. Part 3—Dicotyledoneae (Saururaceae to Violaceae). National Museum of Natural Sciences, OttawaGoogle Scholar
  50. Sczepanek K, Tobolski K, Nalepka D (2004) Alnus Mill.—Alder. In: Ralska-Jasiewiczowa M, Latalowa M, Wasylikowa K, Tobolski K, Madeyska E, Wright Jr HE, Turner C (eds) Late Glacial and Holocene history of vegetation in Poland based on isopollen maps. W. Szafer Institute of Botany, Polish Academy of Sciences, Kraków, pp 47–55Google Scholar
  51. Short SK, Nichols H (1977) Holocene pollen diagrams from subarctic Labrador-Ungava: vegetational history and climatic change. Arct Alp Res 9:265–290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Smith AG, Pilcher JR (1973) Radiocarbon dates and the vegetational history of the British Isles. New Phytol 72:903–914CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Sugita S (2007) Theory of quantitative reconstruction of vegetation I: pollen from large sites REVEALS regional vegetation composition. Holocene 17:229–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. USDA NRCS (United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service) (2014) Plants database. http://plants.usda.gov/. Accessed 15 Dec 2014

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul M. Ledger
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kevin J. Edwards
    • 1
    • 2
  • J. Edward Schofield
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Archaeology, School of GeosciencesUniversity of AberdeenAberdeenScotland, UK
  2. 2.Department of Geography and Environment, School of GeosciencesUniversity of AberdeenAberdeenScotland, UK

Personalised recommendations