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Multiproxy study of anthropogenic and climatic changes in the last two millennia from a small mire in central Poland

DOI: 10.1007/978-90-481-3387-1_13
Source: OAI

ABSTRACT The Żabieniec kettle hole is the first peatland in central Poland analyzed quantitatively with four biotic proxies (plant
macrofossils, pollen, testate amoebae and chironomids) to reconstruct the past environmental change. Palaeoecological data
were supported by historical and archaeological records. We focused on autogenic vegetation change and human impact in relation
to climatic effects. The aims of our study were (a) to describe the development history of the mire during the last 2,000
years, (b) to date and reconstruct the anthropogenic land-use changes and (c) to discuss a possible climatic signal in the
peat archive. The combination of proxies revealed dramatic shifts that took place in the peatland since the Roman Period.
Żabieniec was a very wet telmatic habitat until ca. AD 600. Then, the water table declined, and the site transformed into
a Sphagnum-dominated mire. This dry shift took place mainly during the Early Medieval Period. Human impact was gradually increasing,
and it was particularly emphasized by deforestation since AD 1250 (beginning of the Late Medieval Period). Consequently, surface
run-off and aeolian transport from the exposed soils caused the eutrophication of the mire. Furthermore, chironomids and testate
amoebae reveal the beginning of a wet shift ca. AD 1350. Openness considerably increased in the Late Medieval and the Modern
Periods. The highest water table during the last 1,000 years was recorded between AD 1500 and 1800. This wet event is connected
with deforestation, but it could be also associated with the Little Ice Age. Our study shows plant succession in the Żabieniec
peatland, which can be explained with the recent landscape transformation. However, such changes are also possibly linked
with the major climatic episodes during the last two millennia, such as the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age.

KeywordsCentral Poland-Kettle hole-Testate amoebae-Pollen-Macrofossils-Human impact-Climate-Environmental archaeology

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