Holocene vegetation history of the Western Rhodope Mountains (South Bulgaria): the paleoecological record of peat bog Beliya Kanton
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Laboratory for Archaeobotany, State Office for Cultural Heritage Baden-Württemberg, 783434 Geienhofen-Hemmenhofen, Germany
Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 1113 Sofia, Bulgaria
Laboratory of Palynology, Department of Botany, Faculty of Biology, Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”, 1164 Sofia, Bulgaria
Submission date: 2023-03-09
Acceptance date: 2023-06-22
Online publication date: 2023-06-30
Publication date: 2023-06-30
Acta Palaeobotanica 2023; 63(1): 87–99
  • Holocene vegetation history in the Western Rhodope Mountains (Bulgaria)
  • Pollen analysis, plant macrofossils and radiocarbon dating
  • Anthropogenic impact on the natural forest cover
Pollen and plant macrofossil analyses supported with radiocarbon dating were conducted on a Holocene core from the peat bog Beliya Kanton (1547 m a.s.l.) located in the Western Rhodope Mountains (South Bulgaria). In the early Holocene until ~10 000 cal. BP the mountain slopes were covered by Pinus, admixed with Betula, Juniperus and shrubland of Ephedra among herb communities dominated by Poaceae, Cichorioideae, Achillea, Artemisia, Brassicaceae species. Subsequently, the afforestation continued with the expansion of broadleaved oak forests with Tilia, Ulmus and Corylus which reached their maximum distribution ~8800 cal. BP. Gradually, these forests began to retreat, replaced at many places first by Corylus and later on by Picea abies, Abies alba and Fagus. The formation of the contemporary coniferous belt with the dominance of PinusPicea abies and fragmented mixed coniferous-deciduous communities in the late Holocene was attributed not only to climate change but also to diverse human interference in the natural forest cover. During the last 2000 years the continuous presence of Juniperus, Juglans, Rumex, Cirsium, Plantago lanceolata and Hordeum pollen indicated intensive stock-breeding, grazing and crop cultivation. The fragments of charred wood testify to tree felling and fire clearances on flat ground to obtain new pasture land.
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