Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 207–216 | Cite as

Tree taxa immigration to the eastern Baltic region, southeastern sector of Scandinavian glaciation during the Late-glacial period (14,500–11,700 cal. b.p.)

  • Leeli AmonEmail author
  • Siim Veski
  • Jüri Vassiljev
Original Article


The eastern Baltic region is situated in the southeastern part of the area which was covered by the last Scandinavian glaciation. Four well-dated sediment profiles from sites distributed along a ~330-km north–south transect were analysed for their macrofossil contents. The immigration of tree taxa during the Late-glacial (LG) period, which was the time of environmental change from tundra to woodland in previously glaciated areas, can be determined from these data. The pioneer vegetation in the study area was treeless dwarf shrub tundra with various dominant taxa. The so-called Allerød hemispheric warming permitted the Post-glacial immigration of trees into the southern part of the eastern Baltic region; however, these most probably disappeared during the following cold period, the Younger Dryas/GS-1. The local presence of Betula sect. Albae, Pinus sylvestris, Populus tremula and Picea abies during the LG period in the southern part of the region was confirmed. The northern part of the area presumably remained treeless for the entire LG period. Therefore, until the beginning of the Holocene, the tree line in the eastern Baltic region did not reach beyond 58°N.


Late-glacial vegetation Macrofossil Immigration Tree line Eastern Baltic 



The first author is grateful to Hilary H. Birks (University of Bergen) for the introduction to plant macrofossil analysis and the fascinating realm of LG vegetation that thousands of years ago covered my home country. We acknowledge the anonymous referees for their comments and suggestions on the manuscript. The study was financially supported by ETF 8552 and IUT 1-8.


  1. Amon L (2011) Palaeoecological reconstruction of Late-glacial vegetation dynamics in eastern Baltic area: a view based on plant macrofossil analysis. Dissertation, University of Technology Press, TallinnGoogle Scholar
  2. Amon L, Saarse L (2010) Late Glacial and Early Holocene palaeoenvironmental changes in the surroundings of Udriku, North Estonia. Geol Quart 54:85–95Google Scholar
  3. Amon L, Heinsalu A, Veski S (2010) Late glacial multiproxy evidence of vegetation development and environmental change at Solova, south-eastern Estonia. Est J Earth Sci 59:151–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Amon L, Veski S, Heinsalu A, Saarse L (2012) Timing of Lateglacial vegetation dynamics and respective palaeoenvironmental conditions in southern Estonia: evidence from the sediment record of Lake Nakri. J Quat Sci 27:169–180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Anderberg A-L (1994) Atlas of seeds and small fruits of Northwest-European plant species with morphological description. Part 4. Resedaceae–Umbelliferae. Swedish Museum of Natural History, StockholmGoogle Scholar
  6. Berggren G (1969) Atlas of seeds and small fruits of Northwest-European plant species with morphological description. Part 2. Cyperaceae. Swedish Museum of Natural History, StockholmGoogle Scholar
  7. Binney HA, Willis KJ, Edwards ME et al (2009) The distribution of late-quaternary woody taxa in northern Eurasia: evidence from a new macrofossil database. Quat Sci Rev 28:2,445–2,464Google Scholar
  8. Binney HA, Gething PW, Nield JM, Sugita S, Edwards ME (2011) Tree line identification from pollen data: beyond the limit? J Biogeogr 38:1,792–1,806Google Scholar
  9. Birks HH (2001) Plant macrofossils. In: Smol JP, Birks HJB, Last WM (eds) Tracking environmental change using lake sediments, vol 3., Terrestrial, algal, and siliceous indicators Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp 49–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Birks HH (2003) The importance of plant macrofossils in the reconstruction of Lateglacial vegetation and climate: examples from Scotland, western Norway, and Minnesota, USA. Quat Sci Rev 22:453–473CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Birks HH (2008) The Late-Quaternary history of arctic and alpine plants. Plant Ecol Divers 1:135–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Birks HH, Birks HJB (2000) Future uses of pollen analysis must include plant macrofossils. J Biogeogr 27:31–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Birks HH, Bjune AE (2010) Can we detect a west Norwegian tree line from modern samples of plant remains and pollen? Results from the DOORMAT project. Veget Hist Archaeobot 19:325–340CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Birks HJB, Willis KJ (2008) Alpines, trees, and refugia in Europe. Plant Ecol Divers 1:147–160CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Birks HH, Giesecke T, Hewitt GM, Tzedakis PC, Bakke J, Birks HJB (2012) Comment on glacial survival of boreal trees in Northern Scandinavia. Science 338:742CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Bronk Ramsey C (2001) Development of the radiocarbon calibration program OxCal. Radiocarbon 43:355–363Google Scholar
  17. Bronk Ramsey C (2008) Deposition models for chronological records. Quat Sci Rev 27:42–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Burga CA (1999) Vegetation development on the glacier forefield Morteratsch (Switzerland). Appl Veg Sci 2:17–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Cappers RTJ, Bekker RM, Jans JEA (2006) Digitale zadenatlas van Nederland. (Groningen Archaeological Studies 4) Barkhuis, GroningenGoogle Scholar
  20. Cheddadi R, Vendramin GG, Litt T et al (2006) Imprints of glacial refugia in the modern genetic diversity of Pinus sylvestris. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 15:271–282CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Del Moral R (2009) Increasing deterministic control of primary succession on Mount St. Helens, Washington. J Veget Sci 20:1,145–1,154Google Scholar
  22. Feurdean A, Wohlfarth B, Björkman L, Tantau I, Bennike O, Willis KJ, Farcas S, Robertsson AM (2007) The influence of refugial population on Lateglacial and early Holocene vegetational changes in Romania. Rev Palaeobot Palynol 145:305–320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Feurdean A, Bhagwat SA, Willis KJ, Birks HJB, Lischke H, Hickler T (2013) Tree migration-rates: narrowing the gap between inferred post-glacial rates and projected rates. PLoS One 8(8):e71797. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0071797 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Giesecke T, Bennett KD (2004) The Holocene spread of Picea abies (L.) Karst. in Fennoscandia and adjacent areas. J Biogeogr 31:1,523–1,548Google Scholar
  25. Guobyte R, Satkunas J (2011) Pleistocene glaciations in Lithuania. In: Ehlers J, Gibbard PL, Hughes PD (eds) Quaternary glaciations—extent and chronology. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 231–247Google Scholar
  26. Heikkilä M, Fontana SL, Seppä H (2009) Rapid Lateglacial tree population dynamics and ecosystem changes in the eastern Baltic region. J Quat Sci 24:802–815CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hodkinson ID, Coulson SJ, Webb NR (2003) Community assembly along proglacial chronosequences in the high Arctic: vegetation and soil development in north-west Svalbard. J Ecol 91:651–663CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kalm V (2006) Pleistocene chronostratigraphy in Estonia, southeastern sector of the Scandinavian glaciation. Quat Sci Rev 25:960–975CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kalm V (2012) Ice-flow pattern and extent of the last Scandinavian ice sheet southeast of the Baltic Sea. Quat Sci Rev 44:51–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kihno K, Saarse L, Amon L (2011) Late Glacial vegetation, sedimentation and ice recession chronology in the surroundings of Lake Prossa, central Estonia. Est J Earth Sci 60:147–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Koff T, Terasmaa J (2011) The sedimentary sequence from the Lake Ķūži outcrop, central Latvia: implications for late glacial stratigraphy. Est J Earth Sci 60:113–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kullman L (2008) Early postglacial appearance of tree species in northern Scandinavia: review and perspective. Quat Sci Rev 27:2,467–2,472Google Scholar
  33. Kvasov DD (1979) The Late-Quaternary history of large lakes and inland seas of Eastern Europe. Annales Academie Scientiarum Fennicae, Ser. A III. Geologica-Geographica 127:1–71Google Scholar
  34. Laasimer L (1965) Eesti NSV taimkate. Valgus, TallinnGoogle Scholar
  35. Latałowa M, Van der Knaap WO (2006) Late Quaternary expansion of Norway spruce Picea abies (L.) Karst. in Europe according to pollen data. Quat Sci Rev 25:2,780–2,805Google Scholar
  36. Laumets L, Kalm V, Poska A, Kele S, Seppä H, Lasberg K, Amon L (in press) Palaeoclimate inferred from δ18O and palaeobotanical indicators in freshwater tufa of Lake Äntu Sinijärv, Estonia. J PaleolimnolGoogle Scholar
  37. Lowe JJ, Rasmussen SO, Björck S, Hoek WZ, Steffensen JP, Walker MJC, Yu ZC, INTIMATE Group (2008) Synchronisation of palaeoenvironmental events in the North Atlantic region during the Last Termination: a revised protocol recommended by the INTIMATE group. Quat Sci Rev 27:6–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Malkinson D, Tielbörger K (2010) What does the stress-gradient hypothesis predict? Resolving the discrepancies. Oikos 119:1,546–1,552Google Scholar
  39. Novik A, Punning J-M, Zernitskaya V (2010) The development of Belarusian lakes during the Late Glacial and Holocene. Est J Earth Sci 59:63–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Ozola I, Cerina A, Kalnina L (2010) Reconstruction of palaeovegetation and sedimentation conditions in the area of ancient Lake Burtnieks, northern Latvia. Est J Earth Sci 59:164–179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Paal J (1998) Rare and threatened plant communities of Estonia. Biodivers Conserv 7:1,027–1,049Google Scholar
  42. Parducci L, Jørgensen T, Tollefsrud MM et al (2012) Glacial survival of boreal trees in Northern Scandinavia. Science 335:1,083–1,086Google Scholar
  43. Petit RJ, Hu FS, Dick CW (2008) Forests of the past: a window to future changes. Science 320:1,450–1,452Google Scholar
  44. Prentice IC, Cramer W, Harrison SP, Leemans R, Monserud RA, Solomon MA (1992) Special Paper: a global biome model based on plant physiology and dominance, soil properties and climate. J Biogeogr 19:117–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Reimer PJ, Baillie MGL, Bard E et al (2004) IntCal04 terrestrial radiocarbon age calibration, 0–26 cal. k year bp. Radiocarbon 46:1,029–1,058Google Scholar
  46. Reimer PJ, Baillie MGL, Bard E et al (2009) IntCal09 and Marine09 radiocarbon age calibration curves, 0–50,000 years cal. bp. Radiocarbon 51:1,111–1,150Google Scholar
  47. Saarse L, Poska A, Veski S (1999) Spread of Alnus and Picea in Estonia. Proc Est Sci Geol 48:170–186Google Scholar
  48. Saarse L, Heinsalu A, Veski S (2012) Deglaciation chronology of the Pandivere and Palivere ice-marginal zones in Estonia. Geol Quart 56:353–362CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Seppä H, Hicks S (2006) Integration of modern and past pollen accumulation rate (PAR) records across the arctic tree-line: a method for more precise vegetation reconstructions. Quat Sci Rev 25:1,501–1,516Google Scholar
  50. Stančikaitė M, Šinkūnas P, Šeirienė V, Kisielienė D (2008) Patterns and chronology of the Lateglacial environmental development at Pamerkiai and Kašučiai, Lithuania. Quat Sci Rev 27:127–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Stančikaitė M, Kisielienė D, Moe D et al (2009) Lateglacial and Early Holocene environmental changes in northeastern Lithuania. Quat Int 207:80–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Sturm M, Racine C, Tape K (2001) Increasing shrub abundance in the Arctic. Nature 411:546CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Tollefsrud MM, Kissling R, Gugerli F et al (2008) Genetic consequences of glacial survival and postglacial colonization in Norway spruce: combined analysis of mitochondrial DNA and fossil pollen. Mol Ecol 17:4,134–4,150Google Scholar
  54. Väliranta M (2005) Plant macrofossil evidence of changes in aquatic and terrestrial environments in north-eastern European Russia and Finnish Lapland since late Weichselian. Doctoral thesis, University of HelsinkiGoogle Scholar
  55. Väliranta M, Kultti S, Seppä H (2006) Vegetation dynamics during the Younger Dryas–Holocene transition in the extreme northern taiga zone, northeastern European Russia. Boreas 35:202–212CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Väliranta M, Kaakinen A, Kuhry P, Kultti S, Salonen JS, Seppä H (2010) Scattered late-glacial and early Holocene tree populations as dispersal nuclei for forest development in north-eastern European Russia. J Biogeogr 38:922–932CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Vassiljev J, Saarse L (2013) Timing of the Baltic ice lake in the eastern Baltic. Bull Geol Soc Finland 85:9–18Google Scholar
  58. Veski S, Amon L, Heinsalu A, Reitalu T, Saarse L, Stivrins N, Vassiljev J (2012) Lateglacial vegetation dynamics in the eastern Baltic region between 14500 and 11400 cal year bp: a complete record since the Bølling (GI-1e) to the Holocene. Quat Sci Rev 40:39–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Willis KJ, Van Andel TH (2004) Trees or no trees? The environments of central and eastern Europe during the Last Glaciation. Quat Sci Rev 23:2,369–2,387Google Scholar
  60. Wohlfarth B, Lacourse T, Bennike O, Subetto D, Tarasov P, Demidov I, Filimonova L, Sapelko T (2007) Climatic and environmental changes in north-western Russia between 15000 and 8000 cal year bp: a review. Quat Sci Rev 26:1,871–1,883Google Scholar
  61. Zelčs V, Markots A (2004) Deglaciation history of Latvia. In: Ehlers J, Gibbard PL (eds) Quaternary glaciations—extent and chronology of glaciations. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 225–243Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Geology at Tallinn University of TechnologyTallinnEstonia

Personalised recommendations