Advertisement

Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 24, Issue 6, pp 699–710 | Cite as

Crops and weeds from the Estany de Montcortès catchment, central Pyrenees, during the last millennium: a comparison of palynological and historical records

  • Valentí Rull
  • Teresa Vegas-Vilarrúbia
Original Article

Abstract

We use palynological and historical records to reconstruct the evolution of agricultural practices and their consequences on landscape development in a mid-elevation Pyrenean small lake catchment during the last millennium. A total of ten cultivated plants and eight weed taxa were recognised and their changes in time recorded in detail. Two main phases of agricultural development were identified, A1 (9th–14th centuries ad) and A2 (16th–19th centuries ad). A1 coincided with the medieval climate anomaly and began after a widespread loss of woodland by fire, as manifested in a decline of arboreal pollen from ~60 to ~30 %, which affected mainly the pine woods (~40 to ~10 %). This phase was characterised by cultivation of the cereals Secale and Triticum/Avena, with Plantago as the main weed, alternating with pastures dominated by Artemisia, in a ca. 60 year land-use rotation scheme. A1 also coincided with a feudal socio-economic system that replaced the shifting cultivation practices of the earlier inhabitants with intensive agriculture. This type of land use was interrupted by the onset of the Little Ice Age, coinciding with a great social crisis with wars and plagues, leading to the depopulation of the zone and the recovery of woodlands. The onset of A2 coincided with the Spanish monarchy of the modern age and was characterised by Cannabis cultivation, which attained a maximum in the post-modern age, at the transition between feudalism and capitalism. Hemp was mainly used to supply fibre to the Spanish navy and the cultivation of this plant was mandatory until the disestablishment of this navy in ad 1834. After this date, a second socio-economic crisis took place as a consequence of massive emigration to large cities, promoted by the growing industrialisation. The combination of fossil and historical evidence significantly improves palaeoecological reconstructions in areas under heavy human impact, which is useful to enhance historical soundness, to understand how modern landscapes have been shaped and also to disentangle natural causes of ecological change from human ones.

Keywords

Palynology Historical documents Agriculture Landscape shaping Pyrenees Last millennium 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work was supported by project MONTCORTES-500, which was funded by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (CGL2012-33665). The authors are grateful to the Arxiu Comarcal del Pallars Sobirà, especially to the director, Carme Maria Marugan, for her help with historical documentation.

Supplementary material

334_2015_525_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (409 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 408 kb) Pollen diagram of Lake Montcortès (core MON-04-1A-1 K)

References

  1. Andreu M (1981) La financiación de la industria naval en Barcelona (1745–1760). Pedralbes 1:267–294Google Scholar
  2. Balasch C, Becat J, Marugan C et al (2008) Les riuades del segle XX al Pallars Sobirà: 1907, 1937 i 1982. Generalitat de Catalunya, Departament de Cultura i Mitjans de Comunicació, BarcelonaGoogle Scholar
  3. Behre K-E (1981) The interpretation of anthropogenic indicators in pollen diagrams. Pollen Spores 23:225–245Google Scholar
  4. Bennett KD, Willis KJ (2001) Pollen. In: Smol JP, Birks HJB, Last WM (eds) Tracking environmental change using lake sediments: terrestrial, algal, and siliceous indicators, vol 3. Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp 5–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Birks HJB, Birks HH (1980) Quaternary palaeoecology. Arnold, LondonGoogle Scholar
  6. Bringué JM (2005) L’edat moderna. In: Marugan CM, Rapalino V (eds) Història del Pallars. Dels orígens als nostre dies. Pagès Editors, Lleida, pp 87–120Google Scholar
  7. Camps J, Gonzalvo I, Güell J et al (1976) El lago de Montcortès, descripción de un ciclo anual. Oecol Aquat 2:99–100Google Scholar
  8. Cañellas-Boltà N, Rull V, Vigo J, Mercadé A (2009) Modern pollen-vegetation relationships along an altitudinal transect in the Central Pyrenees (southwestern Europe). Holocene 19(1):1,185–1,200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. CEC (Commission of the European Communities) (1991) CORINE biotopes manual—habitats of the European Community. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, LuxembourgGoogle Scholar
  10. Corella JP, Moreno A, Morellón M et al (2011) Climate and human impact on a meromictic lake during the last 6000 years (Montcortès Lake, Central Pyrenees, Spain). J Paleolimnol 46:351–367CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Corella JP, Brauer A, Mangili C et al (2012) The 1.5-ka varved record of Lake Montcortès (southern Pyrenees, NE Spain). Quat Res 78:323–332CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Corella JP, Benito G, Rodriguez-Lloveras X et al (2014) Annually-resolved lake record extreme hydro-meteorological event since ad 1347 in NE Iberian Peninsula. Quat Sci Rev 93:77–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Court-Picon M, Butler A, De Beaulieu JL (2006) Modern pollen/vegetation/land-use relationships in mountain environments: an example from the Champsaur valley (French Alps). Veget Hist Archaeobot 15:151–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Delgado JM (1994) La indústria de la construcció naval catalana (1750–1850). Drassana 2:34–39Google Scholar
  15. Esteban A (2003) La humanización de las altas cuencas de la Garona y las Nogueras (4500 aC–1955 aC). Organismo Autónomo de Parques Nacionales, Ministerio de Medio Ambiente, MadridGoogle Scholar
  16. Fægri K, Iversen J (1989) Textbook of pollen analysis, 4th edn. In: Fægri K, Kaland PE, Krzywinski K (eds.) Wiley, ChichesterGoogle Scholar
  17. Farràs F (2005) El Pallars contemporani. In: Marugan CM, Rapalino V (eds) Història del Pallars. Dels orígens als nostre dies. Pagès Editors, Lleida, pp 121–144Google Scholar
  18. Madoz P (1845–1850) Diccionario geográfico-estadístico-histórico de España y sus posesiones de ultramar. Estudio Literario-Tipográfico de P. Madoz y L. Sagasti, MadridGoogle Scholar
  19. Marugan CM, Oliver J (2005) El Pallars medieval. In: Marugan CM, Rapalino V (eds) Història del Pallars. Dels orígens als nostre dies. Pagès Editors, Lleida, pp 45–86Google Scholar
  20. Marugan CM, Rapalino V (2005) Història del Pallars. Dels orígens als nostre dies. Pagès Editors, LleidaGoogle Scholar
  21. Mercadé A, Vigo J, Rull V et al (2013) Vegetation and landscape around Lake Montcortès (Catalan pre-Pyrenees) as a tool for palaeoecological studies of lake sediments. Collect Bot 32:87–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Modamio X, Pérez V, Samarra F (1988) Limnología del lago de Montcortès (ciclo (1978–1979). Oecol Aquat 9:9–17Google Scholar
  23. Moore PD, Webb JA, Collinson ME (1991) Pollen analysis. Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  24. Ntinou M, Badal E, Carrión Y, Menéndez JL, Ferrer R, Pina J (2013) Wood use in a medieval village: the contribution of wood charcoal analysis to the history of land use during the 13th and 14th centuries A.D. at Pobla d’Ifach, Calp, Alicante, Spain. Veget Hist Archaeobot 22:115–128CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Pèlachs A, Nadal J, Soriano JM, Molina D, Cunill R (2009) Changes in Pyrenean woodlands as a result of the intensity of human exploitation: 2000 years of metallurgy in Vallferrera, northeast Iberian Peninsula. Veget Hist Archaeobot 18:403–416CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Riera S, Wansard G, Julià R (2004) 2000-year environmental history of a karstic lake in the Mediterranean Pre-Pyrenees: the Estanya lakes (Spain). Catena 55:293–324CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Riera S, López-Sáez JA, Julià R (2006) Lake responses to historical land use changes in northern Spain: the contribution of non-pollen palynomorphs in a multiproxy study. Rev Palaeobot Palynol 141:127–137CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Rull V, Vegas-Vilarrúbia T (2014) Preliminary report on a mid-19th century Cannabis pollen peak in NE Spain: historical context and potential chronological significance. Holocene 24:1,378–1,383CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Rull V, González-Sampériz P, Corella J et al (2011) Vegetation changes in the southern Pyrenean flank during the last millennium in relation to climate and human activities: the Montcortès lacustrine record. J Paleolimnol 46:387–404CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Sanz V (1995) D’artesans a proletaris: La manufactura del cànem a Castelló, 1732–1843. Diputació de Castelló, CastellóGoogle Scholar
  31. Scussolini P, Vegas-Vilarrúbia T, Rull V et al (2011) Middle and late Holocene climate change and human impact inferred from diatoms, algae and aquatic macrophyte pollen in sediments from Lake Montcortès (NE Iberian Peninsula). J Paleolimnol 46:369–385CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Vigo J, Ninot J (1987) Los Pirineos. In: Peinado M, Rivas-Martínez F (eds) La vegetación de España. Universidad de Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, pp 349–384Google Scholar
  33. Vigo J, Carreras J, Ferré A (2005–2008) Manual dels hábitats de Catalunya, vol 1–8. Departament de Medi Ambient i Habitatge, Generalitat de Catalunya, BarcelonaGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Palynology and Paleoecology LaboratoryBotanic Institute of Barcelona (IBB-CSIC-ICUB)BarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Department of EcologyUniversity of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Institute of Earth Sciences Jaume Almera (ICTJA-CSIC)BarcelonaSpain

Personalised recommendations