Impacts of changing climate and land use on vegetation dynamics in a Mediterranean ecosystem: insights from paleoecology and dynamic modeling

Henne, Paul D. and Elkin, Ché and Colombaroli, Daniele and Samartin, Stéphanie and Bugmann, Harald and Heiri, Oliver and Tinner, Willy. (2013) Impacts of changing climate and land use on vegetation dynamics in a Mediterranean ecosystem: insights from paleoecology and dynamic modeling. Landscape Ecology, 28 (5). pp. 819-833.

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Official URL: https://edoc.unibas.ch/69364/

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Forests near the Mediterranean coast have been shaped by millennia of human disturbance. Consequently, ecological studies relying on modern observations or historical records may have difficulty assessing natural vegetation dynamics under current and future climate. We combined a sedimentary pollen record from Lago di Massacciucoli, Tuscany, Italy with simulations from the LandClim dynamic vegetation model to determine what vegetation preceded intense human disturbance, how past changes in vegetation relate to fire and browsing, and the potential of an extinct vegetation type under present climate. We simulated vegetation dynamics near Lago di Massaciucoli for the last 7,000 years using a local chironomid-inferred temperature reconstruction with combinations of three fire regimes (small infrequent, large infrequent, small frequent) and three browsing intensities (no browsing, light browsing, and moderate browsing), and compared model output to pollen data. Simulations with low disturbance support pollen-inferred evidence for a mixed forest dominated by Quercus ilex (a Mediterranean species) and Abies alba (a montane species). Whereas pollen data record the collapse of A. alba after 6000 cal yr bp, simulated populations expanded with declining summer temperatures during the late Holocene. Simulations with increased fire and browsing are consistent with evidence for expansion by deciduous species after A. alba collapsed. According to our combined paleo-environmental and modeling evidence, mixed Q. ilex and A. alba forests remain possible with current climate and limited disturbance, and provide a viable management objective for ecosystems near the Mediterranean coast and in regions that are expected to experience a mediterranean-type climate in the future.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Geowissenschaften > Geoökologie (Heiri)
UniBasel Contributors:Heiri, Oliver
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:16 Nov 2020 16:03
Deposited On:16 Nov 2020 16:03

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