Importance of climate, forest fires and human population size in the Holocene boreal forest composition change in Northern Europe

Kuosmanen, N and Seppa, H and Alenius, T and Bradshaw, R H W and Clear, J L and Filimonova, L and Heikkila, M and Renssen, H and Tallavaara, M and Reitalu, T (2016) Importance of climate, forest fires and human population size in the Holocene boreal forest composition change in Northern Europe. Boreas, 45 (4). pp. 688-702. ISSN 1502-3885

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The relative importance of climate, forest fires and human population size on long-term boreal forest composition were statistically investigated at regional and local scales in Fennoscandia. We employ pollen data from lakes, reflecting regional vegetation, and small forest hollows, reflecting local vegetation, from Russia, Finland and Sweden to reconstruct the long-term forest composition. As potential drivers of the Holocene forest dynamics we consider climate, generated from a climate model and oxygen isotope data, past forest fires generated from sedimentary charcoal data and human population size derived from radiocarbon dated archaeological findings.
We apply the statistical method of variation partitioning to assess the relative importance of these environmental
variables on long-term boreal forest composition. The results show that climate is the main driver of the changes in Holocene boreal forest composition at the regional scale. However, at the local scale the role of climate is relatively small. In general, the importance of forest fires is low both at regional and local scales. The fact that both climate and forest fires explain relatively small proportions of variation in long-term boreal vegetation in small forest hollow records demonstrates the complexity of factors affecting stand-scale forest dynamics. The relative importance of human population size was low in both the prehistorical and the historical time periods. However, this is the first time that this type of data has been used to statistically assess the importance of human population size on boreal vegetation and the spatial representativeness of the data may cause bias to the analysis.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information and Comments: The definitive version is available at
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Science > Geography and Environmental Science
Depositing User: Jennifer Clear
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2017 14:15
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2018 11:20

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