Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 23, Issue 6, pp 693–700 | Cite as

Widespread dust deposition on North American peatlands coincident with European land-clearance

  • Alex W. Ireland
  • Michael J. Clifford
  • Robert K. Booth
Original Article

Abstract

Ecosystems around the world are being subjected to numerous human disturbances. Climate change and land degradation are the most obvious of these disturbances and have received much attention. However, easily overlooked, indirect disturbances can also alter ecosystem structure and function. Dust deposition is a prime example of an easily overlooked disturbance process. We hypothesized that historic European settlement and land-clearance in eastern North America led to widespread wind erosion of upland soils and subsequent dust deposition onto otherwise undisturbed peatlands, potentially fertilizing these naturally nutrient-poor ecosystems and causing shifts in plant communities. We tested these hypotheses by analyzing 11 peat profiles collected across a broad region of eastern North America. We documented a strong correlation between the concentrations of Ambrosia pollen grains and microscopic mineral particles, interpreting this as a signal of dust deposition coincident with European settlement and land-clearance. Analysis of Sphagnum macrofossils revealed substantial site-to-site variability in both the degree and the direction of ecological response to dust deposition, but suggested that increasing magnitude of dust deposition increased the likelihood of a decline in the relative abundance of Sphagnum. Results also suggested that raised bogs were more sensitive to dust deposition than kettle peatlands. We conclude that European settlement and land-clearance resulted in widespread dust deposition on peatlands, leading to ecological changes in some of these ecosystems, and leaving behind a coherent dust horizon in the late-Holocene peatland stratigraphy of eastern North America. This easily overlooked indirect disturbance process could be ongoing today in areas of widespread soil disturbance and could potentially further alter dust-receiving ecosystems.

Keywords

Human disturbance Peatlands Sphagnum Ambrosia pollen Settlement North America Dust 

References

  1. Allan M, Le Roux G, De Vleeschouwer F, Bindler R, Blaauw M, Fagel N (2013) High-resolution reconstruction of atmospheric deposition of trace metals and metalloids since AD 1,400 recorded by ombrotrophic peat cores in Hautes-Fagnes, Belgium. Environ Pollut 178:1–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ballantyne AP, Brahney J, Fernandez D, Lawrence CL, Saros J, Neff JC (2011) Biogeochemical response of alpine lakes to a recent increase in dust deposition in the Southwestern, US. Biogeosciences 8:2,689–2,706CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barnosky AD, Hadly EA, Bascompte J et al (2012) Approaching a state shift in the Earth’s biosphere. Nature 486:52–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blaauw M (2010) Methods and code for ‘classical’ age-modelling of radiocarbon sequences. Quat Geochronol 5:512–518CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Booth RK (2010) Testing the climate sensitivity of peat-based paleoclimate reconstructions in mid-continental North America. Quat Sci Rev 29:720–731CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Booth RK, Jackson ST, Gray CED (2004) Paleoecology and high-resolution paleohydrology of a kettle peatland in upper Michigan. Quat Res 6:1–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Booth RK, Lamentowicz M, Charman DJ (2010) Preparation and analysis of testate amoebae in peatland palaeoenvironmental studies. Mires and Peat 7:1–7Google Scholar
  8. Booth RK, Jackson ST, Sousa VA, Sullivan ME, Minckley TA, Clifford MJ (2012) Multi-decadal drought and amplified moisture variability drove rapid forest community change in a humid region. Ecology 93:219–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brugam R (1978) Pollen indicators of land-use change in southern Connecticut. Quat Res 9:349–362CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chambers FM, Beilman DW, Yu Z (2011) Methods for determining peat humification and for quantifying peat bulk density, organic matter and carbon content for palaeostudies of climate and peatland carbon dynamics. Mires and Peat 7:1–10Google Scholar
  11. Charman DJ (2002) Peatlands and environmental change. John Wiley and Sons, West SussexGoogle Scholar
  12. Clifford MJ, Booth RK (2013) Increased probability of fire during late Holocene droughts in northern New England. Clim Change 119:693–704CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Farmer JG, Anderson P, Cloy JM, Graham MC, MacKenzie AB, Cook GT (2009) Historical accumulation rates of mercury in four Scottish ombrotrophic peat bogs over the past 2,000 years. Sci Total Environ 407:5,578–5,588CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Field JP, Belnap J, Breshears DD, Neff JC, Okin GS, Whicker JJ, Painter TH, Ravi S, Reheis MC, Reynolds RL (2010) The ecology of dust. Front Ecol Environ 8:423–430CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Glaser PH, Hansen BCS, Donovan JJ, Givnish TJ, Stricker CA, Volin JC (2013) Holocene dynamics of the Florida Everglades with respect to climate, dustfall, and tropical storms. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 110:17,211–17,216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Grimm EC (2001) Trends and palaeoecological problems in the vegetation and climate history of the northern Great Plains, USA. Proc Roy Irish Acad B 101:47–64Google Scholar
  17. Herrick JE, Sala OE, Karl JW (2013) Land degradation and climate change: a sin of omission. Front Ecol Environ 11:283CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hölzer A, Hölzer A (1998) Silicon and titanium in peat profiles as indicators of human impact. Holocene 8:685–696CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hughes PDM, Lomas-Clarke SH, Schulz J, Barber KE (2008) Decline and localized extinction of a major raised bog species across the British Isles: evidence for associated land-use intensification. Holocene 18:1,033–1,043CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hughes PDM, Mallon G, Brown A, Essex HJ, Stanford JD, Hotes S (2013) The impact of high tephra loading on late-Holocene carbon accumulation and vegetation succession in peatland communities. Quat Sci Rev 67:160–175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ireland AW, Booth RK (2011) Hydroclimatic variability drives episodic expansion of a floating peat mat in a North American kettlehole basin. Ecology 92:11–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ireland AW, Booth RK (2012) Upland deforestation triggered an ecosystem state-shift in a kettle peatland. J Ecol 100:586–596CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Ireland AW, Booth RK, Hotchkiss SC, Schmitz JE (2013) A comparative study of within-basin and regional peatland development: implications for peatland carbon dynamics. Quat Sci Rev 61:85–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Juutinen S, Bubier JL, Moore TM (2010) Responses of vegetation and ecosystem CO2 exchange to 9 years of nutrient addition at Mer Bleue Bog. Ecosystems 13:874–887CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Le Roux G, Laverrret E, Shotyk W (2006) Fate of calcite, apatite and feldspar in an ombrotrophic peat bog, Black Forest, Germany. J Geol Soc London 165:641–646CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lomas-Clarke SH, Barber KE (2007) Human impact signals from peat bogs: a combined palynological and geochemical approach. Veget Hist Archeobot 16:419–429CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Muhs DR (2013) The geologic records of dust in the Quaternary. Aeolian Res 9:3–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Neff JC, Ballantyne AP, Farmer GL et al (2008) Increasing eolian dust deposition in the western United States linked to human activity. Nature Geosci 1:189–195CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Okin GS, Bullard JE, Reynolds RL et al (2011) Dust: small-scale processes with global consequences. EOS 92:241–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 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
  31. Ricker MC, Donohue SW, Stolt MH, Zavada MS (2012) Development and application of multi-proxy indices of land use change for riparian soils in southern New England, USA. Ecol Appl 22:487–501CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Rippke MB, Distler MT, Farrell JM (2010) Holocene vegetation dynamics of an upper St. Lawrence River wetland: paleoecological evidence for a recent increase in cattail (Typha). Wetlands 30:805–816CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Russell EWB, Davis RB, Anderson RS, Rhodes TE, Anderson DS (1993) Recent centuries of vegetational change in the glaciated North-Eastern United States. J Ecol 81:647–664CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Santelmann MV, Gorham E (1988) The influence of airborne road dust on the chemistry of Sphagnum mosses. J Ecol 76:1,219–1,231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Shotyk W, Weiss D, Appleby PG et al (1998) History of atmospheric lead deposition since 12,370 14C year BP from a peat bog, Jura Mountains, Switzerland. Science 281:1,635–1,640CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Shuman B, Henderson AK, Plank C, Stefanova I, Ziegler SS (2009) Woodland-to-forest transition during prolonged drought in Minnesota after ca. AD 1300. Ecology 90:2,792–2,807CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Steffen W, Grinevald J, Crutzen P, McNeill J (2011) The Anthropocene: conceptual and historical perspectives. Philos T Roy Soc A 369:842–867CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Tiner RW (2003) Geographically isolated wetlands of the United States. Wetlands 23:494–516CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Turetsky MR, Manning SW, Wieder K (2004) Dating of recent peat deposits. Wetlands 24:324–356CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Walther G-R, Post E, Convey P, Menzel A et al (2002) Ecological responses to recent climate change. Nature 416:389–395CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lamentowicz M, Tobolski K, Mitchell EAD (2007) Palaeoecological evidence for anthropogenic acidification of a kettle-hole peatland in northern Poland. Holocene 17:1,185–1,196CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alex W. Ireland
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Michael J. Clifford
    • 1
  • Robert K. Booth
    • 1
  1. 1.Earth and Environmental Sciences DepartmentLehigh UniversityBethlehemUSA
  2. 2.Department of Ecosystem Science and ManagementThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  3. 3.ExxonMobil Biomedical Sciences, IncAnnandaleUSA

Personalised recommendations