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Holocene development of two calcareous spring fens at the Carpathian-Pannonian interface controlled by climate and human impact

Abstract

There is still not enough palaeoecological data from the southwestern part of the Western Carpathians, where mountain ridges steeply rise from the dry and warm Pannonian basin. The reason is a low availability of sites with sediments harbouring fossil remains. In the Považský Inovec Mts, two small protected calcareous wetlands occur in different geographical position and contain suitable sediments. One represents a foothill site (initiated ca 13,000 cal. BP) whereas the other a low-mountain site (initiated ca 7,400 cal. BP). We investigated fossil pollen, spores, and macroscopic remains of plants and molluscs from their sediments. We further reviewed archaeological data, constructed a macrophysical climate model (MCM) and confronted it with other palaeoclimatic proxies. Temperate deciduous trees (Quercus, Corylus and Ulmus) occurred since the Allerød, but their expansion was blocked by a harsh climate in Younger Dryas, when Larix, Pinus and Betula nana still occurred. The climate firstly moistened at ca 9,500 cal. BP and more distinctly at ca 8,500 cal. BP, which was reflected by a strong calcium carbonate precipitation and expansion of Tilia cordata t., Hedera helix, and Ustulina. Although the MCM predicted a rather stable climate since 8,000 cal. BP, certain changes in aquatic mollusc abundances may indicate hydrological fluctuations, as they are paralleled by changes in climate humidity indicated by other evidence from the Western Carpathians. Younger hydrological fluctuations may be alternatively explained by human activities as they correspond with macro-charcoal abundance and indicators of wetland openness. During their existence, both fens harboured only few fen plant and mollusc species specialized to low-productive sedge-moss fens. In the Middle Holocene both sites were encroached by woody plants (Alnus, Picea and Salix), as most other spring fens in the Western Carpathians. Contrary to some other spring fens with similar site conditions in the Western Carpathians, few fen specialists established in the study sites since deforestation, presumably because of severe disturbances caused by grazing and/or hemp retting instead of the usual mowing.

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Acknowledgements

This study was funded by Masaryk University (Project No. MUNI/M/1790/2014) and partially by the Czech Science Foundation (P504/17-05696S). PH and EJ were further supported by the long-term developmental project of the Czech Academy of Sciences (RVO 67985939). We are grateful to all colleagues and friends that helped us with coring in the field (K. Devánová, V. Horsáková, S. Němejc, L. Petr and S. Rezník). J. Novák helped us with the identification of wood fragments and charcoals. We thank J. Roleček and anonymous referees for valuable comments.

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Jamrichová, E., Gálová, A., Gašpar, A. et al. Holocene development of two calcareous spring fens at the Carpathian-Pannonian interface controlled by climate and human impact. Folia Geobot 53, 243–263 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12224-018-9324-5

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Keywords

  • Forest development
  • Late glacial
  • Macrophysical climate model (MCM)
  • Plant and mollusc macrofossils
  • Pollen
  • Považský Inovec Mts
  • Western Carpathians