Pollen-based quantitative reconstructions of Holocene regional vegetation cover (plant-functional types and land-cover types) in Europe suitable for climate modelling.
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We present quantitative reconstructions of regional vegetation cover in north-western Europe, western Europe north of the Alps, and eastern Europe for five time windows in the Holocene [around 6k, 3k, 0.5k, 0.2k, and 0.05k calendar years before present (bp)] at a 1° × 1° spatial scale with the objective of producing vegetation descriptions suitable for climate modelling. The REVEALS model was applied on 636 pollen records from lakes and bogs to reconstruct the past cover of 25 plant taxa grouped into 10 plant-functional types and three land-cover types [evergreen trees, summer-green (deciduous) trees, and open land]. The model corrects for some of the biases in pollen percentages by using pollen productivity estimates and fall speeds of pollen, and by applying simple but robust models of pollen dispersal and deposition. The emerging patterns of tree migration and deforestation between 6k bp and modern time in the REVEALS estimates agree with our general understanding of the vegetation history of Europe based on pollen percentages. However, the degree of anthropogenic deforestation (i.e. cover of cultivated and grazing land) at 3k, 0.5k, and 0.2k bp is significantly higher than deduced from pollen percentages. This is also the case at 6k in some parts of Europe, in particular Britain and Ireland. Furthermore, the relationship between summer-green and evergreen trees, and between individual tree taxa, differs significantly when expressed as pollen percentages or as REVEALS estimates of tree cover. For instance, when Pinus is dominant over Picea as pollen percentages, Picea is dominant over Pinus as REVEALS estimates. These differences play a major role in the reconstruction of European landscapes and for the study of land cover–climate interactions, biodiversity and human resources.
CitationGlobal Change Biology 2015, 21(2):676-697
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons Ltd
Copyright 2014 The Authors