Changes of the tree-lines and alpine vegetation in relation to post-glacial climate dynamics in northern Fennoscandia based on pollen and chironomid records

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Abstract

Palaeoclimatic records derived from a variety of independent proxies provide evidence of post-glacial changes of temperature and soil moisture in northern Fennoscandia. We use pollen percentage, pollen influx, stomatal and chironomid records from Toskaljavri, a high-altitude lake in northern Finland, to assess how treelines and alpine vegetation there have responded to these climate changes. The evidence suggests that the cool, moist climate of the early Holocene supported birch forest in the area 9600 cal. yr BP onwards and that a rise of temperature triggered the immigration of pine at 8300 cal. yr BP. At 6100–4000 cal. yr BP altitudinal treeline in the area was formed by pine, in contrast to the modern situation where mountain birch reaches a higher elevation. Alpine vegetation also demonstrates clear changes. Plant communities typical of dry, oligotrophic heaths of northern Fennoscandia expanded during the dry climatic period at 7000–4000 cal. yr BP and decreased in response to cooler and moister conditions after 4000 cal. yr BP. Alpine plant communities favouring moist sites show an inverse pattern, expanding after a change towards
moister climate after 4000 cal. yr BP. In a redundancy analysis (RDA), a statistically significant proportion of the variability in the total chironomid assemblages was captured by changes in the pollen types reflecting alpine vegetation typical of moist sites. Although chironomid community changes appeared to follow the major patterns in the alpine vegetation succession, the present study does not support a direct link between the changing treeline position and chironomid stratigraphy. Rather, the data indicate that the terrestrial and aquatic environments have each responded directly to the same ultimate cause, namely changing Holocene climate.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Quaternary Science
Volume17
Pages (from-to)287-301
Number of pages15
ISSN0267-8179
Publication statusPublished - 2002
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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