Project

Historical Landscape Ecology Group

Goal: The project "Historical Landscape Ecology Group" has been initiated by the Working Group Historical Landscape Ecology of IALE (http://www.landscape-ecology.org/working-groups/historical-landscape-ecology.html).
The aim is to facilitate the exchange of new publications and to provide a platform for discussions. The group is open to all members and non-members of the IALE WG. Non-members are welcome to contact Marianna Biró in case they are interested in joining IALE and the working group.

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Project log

Matteo Garbarino
added a research item
Land-use legacy on forest dynamics at both stand and landscape scale can last for centuries, affecting forest structure and species composition. We aimed to disentangle the history of the charcoal production legacies that historically shaped Mont Avic Natural Park (Aosta Valley, Italy) forests by integrating LiDAR, GIS, anthracological, and field data at the landscape scale. We adopted different geostatistical tools to relate geographic layers from various data sources. The overexploitation due to intensive charcoal production to fuel mining activities shaped the current forests by homogenising their structure and species composition into dense and young stands with a reduction in late seral species such as Norway spruce (Picea abies) and an increase in pioneer species such as Mountain pine (Pinus uncinata). The multidisciplinary and multi-scale framework adopted in this study stresses the role of historical landscape ecology in evaluating ecosystem resilience to past anthropogenic disturbances.
Hana Skokanova
added a research item
As the human population grows, the transformation of landscapes for human uses increases. In recent homogeneous and predominantly agricultural landscapes, land-cover and management changes are considered the main drivers of vascular plant diversity. However, the specific effects of land-cover classes across whole heterogeneous landscapes are still insufficiently explored. Here, we investigated two floristic surveys realised in 1997 and 2021, accompanied by fine-scale land-cover classes detected in 1950, 1999 and 2018, to reveal the impact of historical and present land cover on the pattern of species composition and species richness in the bilateral Podyjí and Thayatal National Parks. Multi-dimensional analyses revealed that the species composition was driven by the fine-scale historical land cover, the overall species richness was mostly affected by the river phenomenon and the present richness was mostly affected by increased soil nutrients. In well-preserved protected areas, it is especially desirable to restore disappearing land-cover classes with traditional or compensatory management to retain plant species richness, which is a key factor of biodiversity. However, management plans should also take into account the increasing amount of nitrogen in soils from long-term continual deposition, which can strongly impact the species richness, even in national parks with low current deposition. https://www.mdpi.com/2073-445X/11/6/814/htm
Kinga Öllerer
added 3 research items
Context Intensification and specialisation of agriculture and forest use has led to profound structural and compositional changes in European landscapes. In particular, sharp, narrow edges adjacent to relatively homogenous vegetation types progressively replace transitional habitats, crucial for a plethora of species and ecological processes. Quercus robur and Q. petraea regeneration niches make them best adapted to such transitional habitats. However, contemporary oaks’ importance, including their regeneration, is usually considered within limits of forest habitats. Objective Defining habitats, landscape patterns and processes fostering oak regeneration and ‘oakscape’ development. Methods We assessed the state-of-the art of the topical literature with respect to various aspects of oak regeneration based on a refined list of 234 titles from the Web of Science database. Results The review confirmed that the vast majority of studies focus on forest habitats, disregarding the fact that substantial part of acorns are being carried away and seeded by birds in non-forest habitats. Conclusions The common acceptance of the simplistic landscape mosaic model, based on segregated homogenous vegetation categories and clear-cut lines separating patches, impedes proper assessment of landscape changes, referring to ‘untypical’, transitional habitats—the true oaks’ domain. Hence, restoring and sustaining European ‘oakscape’ should result from the overall landscape management, based on a better adapted gradient approach to landscape studies. Applying such an approach, we identified a set of habitats fostering successful oak regeneration and recruitment without direct human support, contributing to the contemporary ‘oakscape’, represented mostly by non-forest, either natural or anthropogenic habitats.
Large herbivores have a keystone role in many forest ecosystems. There is widespread recognition that undesirable changes may be caused by the complete removal of grazing-related disturbances, whereas there can be benefits from properly managed, targeted livestock grazing, both from a forest management and biodiversity perspectives. However, there are also many contradictory statements and results about forest grazing. We summarize the main scientific evidence and knowledge gaps on forest livestock grazing through a global review of the literature for the temperate region. We analysed 71 publications discussing the impact of livestock grazing on vegetation in forests. Grazing reduces vegetation biomass, but less obvious effects relevant to conservation include increased habitat diversity and increased regeneration of selected canopy tree species. Moreover, detailed guidance on how grazing should be carried out for conservation purposes is limited because the results are strongly context dependent. The direction and amplitude of effects can be influenced not only by forest type and stocking levels, but by foraging preferences of livestock, availability of alternative forage, grazing season and herder activity. We stress the need for well-planned real-world experiments and observations, and for more quantitative studies to foster evidence-based conservation management. Grazing differences between wild ungulates and livestock should be better studied, because the effects are often overlapping. We suggest widening the temporal and spatial scales of case studies and stress the need to create space and openness for interdisciplinary and participatory research and conservation approaches, initiating knowledge co-production on the benefits and dis-benefits of grazing in forests.
Introduced pathogen microorganisms are important drivers of ecosystem change. This paper highlights the impact of the non-native pathogen mildew multi-species complex on the natural regeneration dynamics of pedunculate oak (Quercus robur). Pedunculate oak is a European keystone tree species, hosting a great amount of biodiversity, but its future role in (near-)natural forests is uncertain due to the lack of natural regeneration. We reviewed historical and recent ecological, pathological and forestry literature on topics related to the impact of mildew on the success of advanced natural regeneration of pedunculate oak in (near-)natural forests. We propose a novel hypothesis, the 'pathogen mildew hypothesis', to explain the failure of natural regeneration of pedun-culate oak. Mildew reduces shade tolerance and vertical growth in seedlings and saplings, so sapling vitality and competitiveness have diminished considerably since it was unintentionally introduced to Europe in the early 20th century. Due to mildew infection, pedunculate oak in many cases no longer regenerates well naturally under its own canopy. We found that forest ecologists and conservationists often overlook the impacts of this 'recent' driver, while the 'closed-forest' and 'wood-pasture' hypotheses do not adequately help the management of pedunculate oak regeneration. Nature conservation and forest management plans should thus also consider the impact of mildew in order to improve natural regeneration, promote close-to-nature management of pedunculate oak forests, and support associated diversity. More generally, nature conservation, forest ecology and close-to-nature forestry should pay greater attention to the impact of introduced non-native microorganisms on the dynamics of natural ecosystems.
Giuseppe Bazan
added a research item
Dear colleagues, The open access journal Land (ISSN 2073-445X, IF 3.398) is pleased to announce that we have launched a new Special Issue entitled "Resilience in Historical Landscapes”. I am serving as Guest Editor (with Castrorao Barba A., Diarte Blasco P. and Castro Priego M.) for this issue. Given the depth of your expertise in this field, I would like to cordially invite you to contribute an article to the Special Issue. For more information on the issue, please visit the Special Issue website at https://www.mdpi.com/journal/land/special_issues/resilience_historical_landscapes. Papers may be submitted from now until 15 January 2023 as papers will be published on an ongoing basis. Submitted papers should not be under consideration for publication elsewhere. We also encourage authors to send a short abstract or tentative title to the Editorial Office in advance (cassie.wu@mdpi.com). In the hope that this invitation receives your favorable consideration, we look forward to our future collaboration.
Marianna Biró
added 2 research items
Despite deforestation taking place globally, forest cover is increasing in many European landscapes. This increase, however, resulting from plantations and spontaneous forest regrowth, may obscure the generally declining trend of semi-natural forests, though the latter are essential for local and landscape-level conservation strategies and sustainable forest management. We assessed changes in semi-natural and secondary forest cover since the 18th century in Hungary, focusing on the continuity of semi-natural forests. The main trajectories of regional and country-scale forest transformations were reconstructed from the fine-scale site histories of 1,728 randomly selected sample localities. Historical and recent datasets were complemented with field data to estimate forest cover change for seven time periods between the 1780s and the 2010s. Total forest cover changes over these 230 years showed a U-shape curve (from 25% to 24%), leading to a forest minimum in the first half of the 20th century. Semi-natural and secondary forests exhibited strikingly different trends. The proportion of semi-natural forests decreased to 36% of the total forest area by the 2010s, driven mainly by conversion to arable land, while 88% of the actual semi-natural forests have remained continuous forest since the 18th century. Our results showed that when reconstructing landscape-scale historical forest cover change and continuity, the loss of semi-natural forests remains hidden if the calculations are limited to ‘total forest cover change’. It would therefore be immensely important to distinguish between semi-natural and secondary forests, and between types of continuity in the assessments used for conservation-oriented landscape planning and sustainable forest management.
Today’s Mediterranean landscapes result from the interaction between ecosystems and anthropogenic activities. This study aims to assess how the land-use changes between the mid-nineteenth and end of the twentieth century influenced the temporal continuity of the ecosystems in central Apennines (central Italy). Information was acquired from Gregorian cadastral maps, orthophotos and aerial photos (1850, 1954, 1980 and 2010), digitised and georeferenced using QGIS 3.10.1 software. Marked changes in land-use types were found. From 1850 to 1954, grasslands were widely transformed into arable lands, but in the next 60 years they changed again into new grasslands and forests. Forests underwent a slow but continuous expansion from 1850 to 2010. Only a small percentage of the forest and grassland patches (14 and 16%, respectively) have seen ecological continuity. These considerations call attention to temporal continuity of ecosystems, together with the historical dynamism of landscapes, in defining land management and nature conservation policies.
Hana Skokanova
added a research item
Water-powered facilities (WPFs) have traditionally been a pillar of the economy and social development. Therefore, the state took an interest in having these objects recorded and mapped in relevant maps and registers. This article focuses on identifying and localizing WPFs in the Moravice River basin in the so-called Sudetenland, Czechia, between the years 1763 and 2021. Specifically, the evolution and (dis)continuity of the WPFs are assessed through an analysis of cartographic and archival sources, reflecting the wider socioeconomic and demographic context as explanatory variables. The cartographic sources included old military topographic maps of Austria-Hungary and Czechoslovakia from four periods (the mid-18th century, mid-19th century, end of the 19th century, and mid-20th century) on the one hand and two state water-powered facility registers from 1930 and 1953 on the other. The archival sources included funds from regional and state archives. The results show that the count of WPFs peaked during the 19th century, after which there occurred a steep decline caused by societal and economic changes, namely, the expulsion of the local German population, nationalization in the postwar period, and economic and organizational transformations in the socialist era. Special attention is paid to hydropower plants, whose evolution reflects the outlined economic processes.
Aarón M. Santana Cordero
added 2 research items
El objetivo de este trabajo es identificar y analizar las fases evolutivas de dos sistemas sedimentarios costeros durante los últimos 120 años en términos de coberturas del suelo y su relación con la dinámica antrópica, así como la percepción social que de estos se ha tenido durante el periodo de estudio. Los sistemas estudiados son (1) la franja costera del delta del Llobregat (Barcelona) y (2) el antiguo sistema de dunas de Guanarteme (Gran Canaria). Desde hace 120 años, e incluso desde mucho antes, los cambios ecológicos y sociales han ido cogidos de la mano, resultando en una evolución que puede llegar a ser compleja de entender actualmente sin una perspectiva histórica. Específicamente, se intentarán conocer los cambios socio-ecológicos y el rol que han desempeñado dichos sistemas a nivel social en cada etapa estudiada. Por su parte, el uso de documentos históricos tanto escritos como cartográficos, fotografías aéreas y literatura científica, han hecho posible la caracterización histórica de los sistemas objetos de estudio y su análisis en términos de coberturas del suelo y dinámica antrópica. --- The aim of this work is to identify and to analyze the evolutionary phases of two coastal sedimentary systems during the last 120 years in terms of land covers and their relationship with the human dynamics as well as the social perception people had of them during the study period. The systems studied are (1) the coastal fringe of the delta del Llobregat (Barcelona, Spain) and (2) the former dune system of Guanarteme (Gran Canaria, Spain). 120 years ago, and even from much earlier, the ecological and social changes have gone together, resulting in an evolution that can be difficult to understand currently without a historic perspective. Specifically, an attempt will be made to know the socio-ecological changes and the role that these systems have played at the social level in each stage studied. Furthermore, the use of historical written documents as well as cartography, aerial photographs and scientific literature, have made possible the historical characterization of the studied systems and their analysis in terms of land covers and human dynamics.
The use of geographic information science in historical landscape studies at the theoretical-methodological level constitutes a clear scientific gap that needs to be filled. This work explores this field, considering important issues in relation to spatio-temporal analyses and integration, as well as the sources and the main techniques which can be used. A brief description and explanation is provided of photointerpretation, vector, raster and remote sensing techniques as useful tools for spatial analysis in historical landscape studies. Finally, an overview of the field is given through several examples of case studies and theoretical-methodological publications, providing in this way a brief state-of-the-art.
Jana Müllerová
added a research item
Mountain ecosystems are considered to be sensitive to global change and human disturbance. Our retrospective analysis of archival aerial imagery showed dynamics of arctic-alpine tundra vegetation in the Krkonoše Mountains, Czech Republic; image classification revealed a change in land cover classes in 44% of the study area over the past eighty years. This particular ecosystem holds many rare features, such as high numbers of endemic, glacial relict and rare species as well as relict geomorphological components such as sorted patterned ground. Our study revealed an accelerating expansion of the native and planted shrub, Pinus mugo, from 30.6% of the study area in 1936 to 48.6% in 2018, mostly at the expense of grasslands that decreased from 59.3% in 1936 to 44.2% in 2018. Shrub expansion represents a threat to relict periglacial landforms, covering 8% of the sorted patterned ground in 1936 and 26.5% in 2018. Shrub encroachment was shown to be due to artificial planting of the pine in the past as well as the cessation of former farming (mowing and cattle grazing) and, most probably, also by global change. Both dwarf pine stands and tundra grasslands hold high conservation value (Natura 2000 habitats); a balance between different nature protection interests must, therefore, be ensured. Detailed spatio-temporally, explicit outputs of the remote sensing analysis can serve as a baseline for nature conservation in order to prepare corresponding management plans.
Matteo Garbarino
added a research item
Land use change is one of the main drivers of forest landscape dynamics. Temperate mountain forests are facing a synergic effect of climate change and land abandonment that is hard to disentangle. Chalamy valley in the Mont Avic Natural Park (Aosta Valley) is characterized by steep slopes and a complex lithology that disadvantaged pastures and common forest utilizations in favor of intense mining activities until XX century. We combined different ecological samplings and analytical tools to assess the role of land use legacies-particularly mining legacies-on the current forest structure and composition. Our results suggest a role of land use legacies on the forest composition, where European larch is more abundant on abandoned meadows and pastures, due to biological legacies. Mountain pine, the main forest species of the park, was probably favored by the lithology and the continuative clearcut treatment for charcoal production and dominates the valley, especially in the lower forest layers. Relic charcoal hearths show a time-lag of 50 years from the abandonment to tree recolonization and a higher herbaceous cover, probably due to light availability and biochar concentration in the understory. The integration of land cover maps, remote sensing and field surveys allows a comprehensive historical investigation of forest landscape dynamics, highlighting key factors for conservation and management.
Hana Skokanova
added a research item
The Czech rural landscape is a subject of research because it is affected by both intensification and extensification of land cover. This landscape was influenced in recent decades by political and socio-economic changes; we studied how these changes were reflected in the land cover development in protected areas. We selected ten Protected landscape areas (PLAs) with a significant share of open agricultural landscape and focused on land cover changes from the 1950s till the present with four milestones (1950s, 1990, 2004-2006, 2016-2019). Based on vectorised land cover data, analyses of land cover changes, land cover flows and landscape structure were performed. More than one third of the studied area had changed. Forests dominated and enlarged its extent (from 39 % to 47 %); land cover flow (LCF) from arable land to permanent grassland was the largest process during study period (17% of study area) and it expanded after 1990. Other major LCF is forest spreading on permanent grassland (5 %) and arable land (3 %). Trends of landscape metrics describing landscape structure are ambiguous and differ between PLAs. In total, Shannon’s diversity index ( SDI ), Shannon’s evenness index ( SEI ), and Mean Patch Size ( MPS ) increased and Number of Patches ( NumP ) decreased. SDI and SEI show improvement through time; however increasing anthropogenic areas are considered as factor contributing to this positive trend, despite the negative role of these categories in ecological stability. MPS and NumP show ongoing homogenization and unification of the landscape; however it differs between PLAs, with some having more favourable conditions and trends towards higher landscape heterogeneity. To conclude, homogenous landscape structure remains present in Czech rural PLAs; however, there has been a huge shift to more extensive agricultural land cover, which is similar to some European protected areas.
Hana Skokanova
added 2 research items
Assessing long-term land use changes is undertaken mostly with the help of old topographic maps, cadastral plans, aerial photos and other archive materials. However, land use changes can be also interpreted by comparing old landscape paintings with present landscape. A Czech project currently underway seeks to introduce landscape paintings as a trustworthy and attractive source for capturing land use changes, supplementing austere information from the map with another dimension and detail. With the help of landscape paintings, it is possible to recognize more fully the detailed landscape structure, the land management, the arrangement of settlement structure, the predominant vegetation type, sometimes even plant species or interesting geomorphological formations. Finding localities from which the landscape paintings were taken, comparing original/historical realistic painting with the current situation and their publishing on a web site, in a map application or directly in the landscape has big potential in recreation and tourism. The article presents specific examples of landscape paintings with the localization of the painter’s view of the landscape. Some paintings were taken in localities that are nowadays well accessible with hiking trails. The publication of a replica of landscape painting in a given locality can add a new dimension or a supplement to information panels or educational trails. Other landscape paintings may lead tourists to less known localities outside the main hiking trails. They can thus lead to an increase in the attractiveness of these localities and at the same time to deconcentrating tourists from frequently visited tourist sites.
The article analyses possibilities of using landscape paintings in the studies of land cover changes. It examines 112 paintings from 1728 till 1976 and compares them with existing topographic maps. It compares land cover depicted in the paintings with present landscape and it studies changes of landscape derived from topographic maps from several periods, ranging from 1764 till 2006. In order to make the analyses, all paintings had to be localised as precisely as possible. This was done with the help of present map and by field work. Field work was also necessary for identifying main land use/cover changes in comparison to landscape painting. A TopoLandUse database, consisting of land use vector data from five periods, based on vectorisation of topographical maps, was used for analysing land use/land cover changes, their rates and main trends. Comparison of landscape paintings with topographic maps showed overall agreement between both types of sources. Paintings often capture details that cannot be found in the maps, thus enriching gained data. They can also serve as a source for periods from which no maps and other cartographic sources exist. However, paintings are as reliable as the painter makes them. Comparison of landscape in the paintings with the present landscape showed general extensification and abandonment of the landscape, which manifested mainly in the increase of woody vegetation and decrease of arable land. Analyses of land cover changes in the surrounding cadastres in several periods confirmed general trends that can be seen in not only the Czech Republic but also elsewhere in Europe. These are mainly spread of both woody vegetation and permanent grassland at the detriment of arable land but also increase in built-up and recreational area in the settlements.
Matteo Garbarino
added 2 research items
The Dinaric Mountains are a region considered as a hotspot for late-successional montane mixed Abies alba-Fagus sylvatica-Picea abies old-growth forests. This is likely due to historical deforestation levels being presumably lower than in other European regions. This paper provides new insights into the long-term vegetation dynamics and possible legacies of past human activities in old-growth forests in the montane zone of the Dinaric Mountains. Our extensive ground survey and the detailed land-cover types map show that the mixed A. alba-F. sylvatica old-growth forest with sparse P. abies is surrounded by almost pure F. sylvatica stands at Biogradska Gora. The well-dated stand-scale palaeoecological records (pollen, spores, stomata, macrofossils, macroscopic charcoal, and magnetic susceptibility) show that land use (cereal crop cultivation, cattle herding, and fire) during the Middle Ages caused a reduction of the A. alba and P. abies-dominated forest. After a major land abandonment around the Black Death pandemic (mid-14th century) and weaker land-use phases, F. sylvatica-dominated stands developed in the more accessible areas surrounding the old-growth forest. The legacy of past land uses is still visible as the almost pure F. sylvatica stands show less old-growth characteristics than other European beech-dominated old-growth forests. Markedly in contrast to decreasing tree cover elsewhere in the region, tree cover increased several centuries before the formal protection of the forest (1878 ce). These results support the view that historical land-use pressures played an important role for the small extent and the continuity of disturbance-sensitive A. alba and P. abies-dominated old-growth forest stands.
The synergic influence of land use and climate change on future forest dynamics is hard to disentangle, especially in human-dominated forest ecosystems. Forest gain in mountain ecosystems often creates different spatial–temporal patterns between upper and lower elevation belts. We analyzed land cover dynamics over the past 50 years and predicted Business as Usual future changes on an inner subalpine watershed by using land cover maps, derived from five aerial images, and several topographic, ecological, and anthropogenic predictors. We analyzed historical landscape patterns through transition matrices and landscape metrics and predicted future forest ecosystem change by integrating multi-layer perceptron and Markov chain models for short-term (2050) and long-term (2100) timespans. Below the maximum timberline elevation of the year 1965, the dominant forest dynamic was a gap-filling process through secondary succession at the expense of open areas leading to an increase of landscape homogeneity. At upper elevations, the main observed dynamic was the colonization of unvegetated soil through primary succession and timberline upward shift, with an increasing speed over the last years. Future predictions suggest a saturation of open areas in the lower part of the watershed and stronger forest gain at upper elevations. Our research suggests an increasing role of climate change over the last years and on future forest dynamics at a landscape scale.
Giuseppe Bazan
added a research item
The Mediterranean islands and their population history are of considerable importance to the in-terpretation of the population history of Europe as a whole. In this context, Sicily, because of its geographic position, represents a bridge between Africa, the Near East, and Europe that led to the stratification of settlements and admixture events. The genetic analysis of extant and ancient hu-man samples has tried to reconstruct the population dynamics associated with the cultural and demographic changes that took place during the prehistory and history of Sicily. In turn, genetic, demographic and cultural changes need to be understood in the context of the environmental changes that took place over the Holocene. Based on this framework, this paper aims to discuss the cultural and demographic dimension of the island by reviewing archaeogenetic studies, and lastly, we discuss the ecological constraints related to human peopling in times of change in landscapes that occurred on the island in various periods. Finally, possible directions for future archaeogenetic studies of Sicily are discussed. Despite its long human history, Sicily is still one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. The lessons we learn from the past use of landscape provide models for sustainable future management of the Mediterranean’s landscapes.
Hana Skokanova
added a research item
Knowledge of landscape dynamics, functions and ecosystem services is key for evidence-based management of protected areas. These areas represent valuable landscapes, where the ability to provide functions and services should be preserved. The article introduces results of a research focused on landscape development in the Krkonoše National Park and its buffer zone. Land cover changes, landscape structure, development of anthropogenic structures and the level of landscape fragmentation were evaluated on the basis of data derived from topographic maps and aerial imageries from four temporal horizons: 1950s, 1990s, 2004 and 2016.
Hana Skokanova
added a research item
Historic water management facilities may have various uses in the field of tourism. Some water management facilities can be adapted for purposes of board and/or lodging visiors, which is a common alternative use of former water mills, sawmills or hammermills (workshops for processing of iron by mechanical hammer). A smaller part of water management facilities serves within tourism as attractive goals for visitors, e.g. expositions in old water mills, hammermills, paper mills, sawmills, stamping mills, hydroelectric power plants, waterworks facilities. In addition to the above examples, the preserved water management structures can also become attractive if they become part of hiking and biking trails. These include aqueducts, remains of navigation canals, old wells, preserved and extinxt old weirs and dikes. Some water management objects have cultural and historical significance and are protected as cultural monuments, most of them are among the most attractive tourist objects in the region. An evaluation of the potential of historic water management facilities in all aspects of tourism was performed in selected river basins in the Czech Republic. Concurrently, a typology of these objects in different types of natural conditions was performed.
Giuseppe Bazan
added a research item
Knowledge of the processes by which plants colonize old structures is a key element for nature-based design both in urban and suburban contexts. This paper analyses the natural vegetation on walls and in other microhabitats of the roadway structures of Monte Pellegrino (606 m a.s.l.) near Palermo (Sicily), built in the first half of the 1900s. The historical road has particular construction and architectural features, and its characteristics have been maintained to this day. The route, approximately 16 kilometers long, is well integrated within a site of high naturalistic value which has been designated as a Special Area of Conservation (ITA020014) of the Na-tura 2000 network, and it is also a regional natural reserve. The survey was carried out on different homogeneous ecological contexts based on different microhabitats (masonry retaining walls, masonry guardwalls, road margins, and rock cut slopes) which are diversified according to other environmental factors (building materials, inclination, height, and exposure). The phytosociological and statistical analysis has led to the description of six new associations (Crepido bursifoliae-Parietarietum judaicae ass. nov., Athamanto siculae-Parietarietum judaicae ass. nov., Helichryso panormitani-Hypochaeridetum laevigatae ass. nov., Diantho rupicolae-Helichrysetum panormitani Gianguzzi ass. nov., Olopto miliacei-Pennisetetum setacei Gianguzzi ass. nov., Teucrio flavi-Rhoetum coriariae Gianguzzi ass. nov.) and one sub-association (Rhamno alaterni-Euphorbietum dendroidis Géhu & Biondi 1997 artemisietosum arborescentis sub-ass. nov.). Other chasmophytic formations (Centranthetum rubri Oberd. 1969, Antirrhinetum siculi Bartolo & Brullo 1986) were reported for the first time in this area.
Giuseppe Bazan
added a research item
Since 2015, the ongoing project "Harvesting Memories" has been focused on long-term landscape dynamics in Sicani Mountains (Western Sicily). Archaeological excavations in the case study site of Contrada Castro (Corleone) have investigated a settlement which was mainly occupied during the Early Middle Ages (late 8th-11th century AD). This paper aims to understand the historical suitability and sustainability of this area analysing the correlation between the current dynamics of plant communities and the historical use of woods detected by the archaeobotanical record. An integrated approach between phytosociology and archaeobotany has been applied. The vegetation series of the study area has been used as a model to understand the ecological meaning and spatial distribution of archaeobotanical data on charcoals from the Medieval layers of the Contrada Castro site. The intersection between the frequency data of the archaeobotanical record and the phytosociological analysis have confirmed the maintenance of the same plant communities during the last millennium due to the sustainable exploitation of wood resources. An integrated comparison between the structure and composition of current phytocoenoses with archaeobotanical data allowed us to confirm that this landscape is High Nature Value (HNV) farmland and to interpret the historical vegetation dynamics linked to the activities and economy of a rural community.
Matteo Garbarino
added a research item
The importance of land-use legacies for shaping contemporary landscape patterns and processes and for informing landscape management has been widely recognized for at least two decades, although research on the topic has accelerated dramatically in recent years. From a literature survey based on the WOS database and the search sentence ALL = (‘‘land-use legac*’’ OR ‘‘land use legac*’’ AND forest*) we found 279 published papers for the period 1985–2020. Statistically speaking these papers reached an H-index of 40 and a total amount of citations of 6591. An increasing trend of published papers on this topic is not surprising (from 1 in 1994 to 30 per year between 2018 and 2020), yet the level of increasing interest from the scientific community has been remarkable, as demonstrated by the astonishing increase of citations per year (Fig. 1). Almost 16% of the selected papers were published by the journals Forest Ecology and Management, Landscape Ecology and Ecological Applications, but the variability of the disciplines involved highlights the strongly transdisciplinary character of this topic.
Giuseppe Bazan
added a research item
Dear Colleagues, We are pleased to inform you that is open the call-for-paper for the Special Issue “Historical Ecology and Landscape Archeology: Cross-Disciplinary Approaches to the Long Anthropocene” in the open access journal Sustainability (IF 2.592): https://www.mdpi.com/si/35867. Please, don’t hesitate to contact us for further information. Best regards, Prof. Giuseppe Bazan (University of Palermo) and Dr. Angelo Castrorao Barba (CSIC/EEA, Granada) Special Issue abstract: From the micro to the global scale, the human impact is the real protagonist of the Long Anthropocene across the long-term timescale. The driving forces in landscape change are strongly related to historical dynamics. Changes in political regimes, social structures, economic modes of productions, cultural and religious influences— the entire traditional domain of the Humanities—are phenomena entangled with many ecological and environmental factors. Landscape trajectories can be investigated through two different points of view. Vanished landscapes are the main object of study for many “archaeologies” (landscape archaeology; environmental archaeology; geoarchaeology) and “paleo” disciplines (paleobotany, paleoecology; paleoclimatology; paleogeography) that aim to reconstruct the nonvisible past. The second approach focuses on the contemporary landscape as a palimpsest formed by various historical layers in which evidence of the relationship between the human footprint and ecological patterns can be detected.
Hana Skokanova
added a research item
The paper evaluates landscape development, land-use changes, and transport infrastructure variations in the city of Martin and the town of Vrútky, Slovakia, over the past 70 years. It focuses on analyses of the landscape structures characterizing the study area in several time periods (1949, 1970, 1993, 2003); the past conditions are then compared with the relevant current structure (2018). Special attention is paid to the evolution of the landscape elements forming the transport infrastructure. The development and progressive changes in traffic intensities are presented in view of the resulting impact on the formation of the landscape structure. The research data confirm the importance of transport as a force determining landscape changes, and they indicate that while railroad accessibility embodied a crucial factor up to the 1970s, the more recent decades were characterized by a gradual shift to road transport.
Thanasis Kizos
added a research item
The agricultural landscape of Mediterranean islands has transformed radically over the last 60 years. The results differ, due to the interplay of macro, national, and local factors for each setting. In this study, some of these trajectories of change are examined for the island of Lemnos in Greece, using remote sensing and oral history techniques. The first aim is to present the changes in and of the agricultural landscape of Lemnos, applying quantitative and qualitative methods, in order to capture different aspects of those changes. The second aim is to identify the socioeconomic factors that underlie landscape changes or lack of, using local knowledge and perception of the landscape. Land cover maps were produced by aerial photographs using additional texture features, for 1960, 1980, and 2002, through object-oriented image analysis (OBIA). Interviews and a workshop with local actors were used to validate and understand different change trajectories, and to identify the factors behind these changes. Results show that although grasslands have increased, revealing a process of extensification of agriculture in the study area, change has affected a small proportion of the landscape. This process is backed by information revealed through qualitative methods, as migration of labor power in the 1960s and mechanization of the agricultural sector in the late 1970s and early 1980s have been the main factors of the transformation of the agricultural sector in Lemnos, resulting in bigger mixed crop-livestock farms and the abandonment of marginal areas. The results of these processes are discussed in the context of agricultural change in the Mediterranean.
Giovanna Pezzi
added 3 research items
Chestnut stands (orchards and coppices) are among the most typical elements of the southern European mountain landscape and a protected habitat (9260 Castanea sativa woods) according to the European Union (Directive 92/43/EEC). As an anthropogenic landscape, they require specific measures to address preservation or to guide their evolutionary trend. In the Northern Apennines, a landscape multiscalar-multitemporal approach was adopted to highlight factors that have acted on the evolution of this habitat and which still might affect either its preservation or its evolutionary dynamics. Using a diachronic GIS-approach, we analyzed old cadastral maps (drawn up 200 years ago), and aerial photographs. Both the present distribution pattern of the woody species and the incidence of important chestnut diseases were also surveyed. The factors explaining the current extent and species composition of the local chestnut forests confirm their status as an anthropogenic habitat. The present landscape distribution of chestnut woods is heavily linked to past human settlements. Chestnut blight and ink disease are more an indirect reason for past felling activities than an actual direct cause of damage to trees, because of the hypovirulence spread and the limited incidence of the ink disease. Vegetation dynamics of abandoned chestnut forests evolved only partly towards deciduous Beech and Hop Hornbeam stands, thus suggesting both the possibility of a recovery of this cultivation and the need for new criteria for its management.
Historical floras, i.e. lists of plant species recorded in a given geographical area, are not usually considered for capturing past landscape features. In this study, we tested the usefulness of the simultaneous use of historical floristic data and a coeval topographic map to evaluate the main features of the past vegetation landscape and the potential of such data in change detection. Our study site was the Monte Fumaiolo area (northern Italy), where historical floristic data were independently recorded by two famous botanists during the 1930s. Past floristic data were then compared with current cartographic and vegetation data. Despite the fact that the two authors explored a comparable area, they significantly differed in the use of toponyms and in the distribution of floristic records among toponyms. This is reflected by a low floristic similarity at the toponym level between the two data sets. Nevertheless, the species classification into ecological categories allowed to highlight how the two authors recorded similar information on the landscape features. However, the use of these floristic data may have some flaws in landscape change detection.
Historical-geographical (chorographic) descriptions provide some of the earliest formal documentation about landscape. We propose a methodological approach aimed at reconstructing a spatial-explicit picture of the agroforestry system of a eighteenth-century landscape, detecting the main land-use drivers, and analysing existing legacies of past agro-forestry productivity in the present landscape. The study area was the Bologna Apennines, and our data source was a chorographic dictionary from 1781–83. We obtained a matrix of 240 administrative units per 18 agro-forestry products with related productivity indices. Multivariate analysis showed that environmental constraints influenced products and productivity. Agricultural areas (and related products) mainly shaped the hillside, while forests and semi-natural areas (and related products) characterized the mountainside. Such former clustering is still recognizable: agricultural land mostly changed to artificial land-cover, whereas semi-natural areas and forests still exist. The proposed approach confirms that chorography can be a useful tool as a primary source in landscape research.
Stig Roar Svenningsen
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Counting for as much as 6% of Earth’s terrestrial surface, military land use constitutes an important share of human land use. Yet, only few studies analyse the general impact of military land use on landscape and biodiversity. This article presents a countrywide study of land use, land use change and biodiversity content on all Danish defence sites larger than 10 ha, comprising roughly 40,000 ha or 1% of the Danish terrestrial area. Based on interpretation of historical maps, land use history was analysed for the period from the 1870′s to the present. Furthermore, available national data were applied to assess present land use and biodiversity content within and in the surrounding of defence sites. The historical analysis revealed six typical trajectories of land use change. In terms of total area, the two most important were conservation of open, semi-natural habitat types (47%) and change from agriculture to open, semi-natural habitat types (34%). Results also show, that for sites characterised by these two land use change trajectories, present proportions of open semi-natural habitats as well as biodiversity contents are significantly higher within the sites compared to their surroundings. It is concluded that military land use in most cases had a significant beneficial impact on present day land cover composition and biodiversity.
Hana Skokanova
added 6 research items
This study examines development of water areas from 1836-1856 to the present in the selected nine river basins in the Czech Republic. When assessment of the whole examined period 1836-1852 to 2015, it was found that four river basins water areas decreased and in five river basins increased. In the second half of the 19th century showed significantly major driving forces leading to the extinction of water areas in all basins. A significant effect was lack of profitability of fish farming, the development of the sugar industry in the region and increased demand for food, including industrial crops for industrial production. Restoration of water areas after the World War II is associated with the development of fisheries. Increasing water areas in the three river basins was associated with the construction of dams. The information on their historical location presented in this study may be used as a basis for a further renewal and revitalisation of small water reservoirs, including the ponds.
Skokanová H., Eremiášová R.: Changes in the secondary landscape structure and the connection to ecological stability: the cases of two model areas in the Czech Republic. Ekológia (Bratislava), Vol. 31, No. 1, p. 33–45, 2012. This paper characterizes changes in the secondary landscape structure over the past 170 years in two model areas in the Czech Republic, and investigates the following question "Is there is a connection between these changes and the ecological stability of identified biotopes?" Analyses show that there are no areas within the Dunajovické kopce hills model area that can be characterized simultaneously by high ecological stability and stability of land use and land cover. On the other hand, areas of high or very high ecological stability exist in the alluvial plain model area without concurrent change in land use or land cover. These regions comprise almost one-quarter of the entire studied area. In the Dunajovické kopce hills, 6.8% of the area was stable from the land use/land cover viewpoint during the considered period. In the alluvial plain area, meanwhile, this figure was approximately eight times greater, at 58.7%. This difference was mainly due to variations in landscape character and land use. The Dunajovické kopce hills present a landscape intensively used for agriculture, and in particular vineyards, while the alluvial plain is an example of one of the best preserved forest areas in the Czech Republic.
This article presents results on the long-term (from 1837 to 2014) development of land use and a road network in the military training area of Libavá, the Czech Republic, and its surroundings. The key hypotheses were that the establishment of military training areas has significant impacts on the development of their land use and the road network, which are manifested mainly in an increase of forest and/or grassland use/cover, and that military training areas are affected by general trends of land use changes; however, trends connected with specific military needs still dominate. Results show that there are indeed differences in the land use development and land use change transitions in the training area and its surroundings. These were most pronounced during the most intensive military activities in the past 70 years. During this period the training area experienced massive grassing, afforestation and vegetation succession, while the surroundings were used for intensive agriculture and economic development, resulting in the spread of arable land as well as the spread of built-up areas. The road network in the area was also affected by the military regime-direct connections between towns were lost, and many roads were destroyed or lost their importance. Currently, with the withdrawal of the military from almost a third of the training area, both the training area and its surroundings are again being affected by similar driving forces, namely the spread of organic farming and implementation of agri-environmental schemes, resulting in extensive grassing. This trend will likely continue. We believe that land use development in the military training area can serve as a proxy for future land use development in recently abandoned regions.
Marianna Biró
added 4 research items
A key driver of biodiversity loss is human landscape transformation. Change detection and trajectory analysis are frequently applied methods for studying landscape change. We studied to what degree habitat-specific change detection and trajectory analysis provide different information on landscape change compared to the analysis with land-cover statistics. Our research was carried out at two spatial scales (regional, 1800 km2, 360 random points; local, 23 km2, polygon-based maps) in the Kiskunság, Hungary. Spatio-temporal databases were prepared using historical maps, aerial photos and satellite images from 1783, 1883, 1954, and 2009. Local expert knowledge of landscape history and recent vegetation was used during the historical reconstructions. We found large differences at both scales between land-cover based and habitat-specific analyses. Habitat-specific change detection revealed that grassland loss was not continuous in the different habitats, as land-cover based analysis implied. Ploughing affected open sand grasslands and sand steppes differently in the periods studied. It was only apparent from the habitat-specific analyses that from the grasslands only mesotrophic and Molinia meadows were relatively constant, up until the 1950s. The gradual increase in forest area revealed by land-cover CHD analyses was split into natural and anthropogenic processes by habitat-specific analyses. Habitat specific trajectory analysis also revealed ecologically important historical differences between habitats. Afforestation affected especially the open sand grasslands, whereas wetland habitats were relatively stable. The most important trajectory was the one in which closed sand steppes were ploughed during the 19th century, and remained arable fields until present. Fifty percent of the regional trajectories of 18th century open sand grasslands terminated in tree plantations at present, though 82% of the current open sand grasslands of the local site can be regarded as ancient. We concluded that dividing land-cover categories into finer habitat categories offered an opportunity for a more precise historical analysis of key habitats, and could reveal important ecological processes that cannot be reconstructed with land-cover based analyses. It also highlighted habitat-specific processes making natural and social drivers better interpretable. Information on the diversity of habitat-histories may serve as a basis for spatially more explicit conservation management.
Previous studies often showed an in-depth ecological understanding by traditional people of managing natural resources. We studied the landscape ethnoecological knowledge (LEEK) of Szekely villagers on the basis of 16-19th century village laws. We analyzed the habitat types, ecosystem services and sustainable management types on which village laws had focused. Szekelys had self-governed communities formed mostly of "noble peasants". Agriculture and forest use was dominated by commons and regulated by village laws framed locally by the whole community. The mountainous landscape was composed of spruce and beech woodlands, pastures, meadows and arable fields. Seventy-two archival laws from 52 villages, resulting in 898 regulations, were analyzed using the DPSIR framework. Explicit and implicit information about the contemporary ecological knowledge of Szekelys was extracted. We distinguished between responses that limited the use and supported the regeneration of ecosystem services and those responses that protected produced/available ecosystem services and ensured their fair distribution between community members. Most regulations referred to forests (674), arable lands (562), meadows (448) and pastures (134). Szekelys regulated the proportion of arable land, pasture and forest areas consciously in order to maximize long-term exploitation of ecosystem services. The inner territory was protected against overuse by relocating certain uses to the outer territory. Competition for ecosystem services was demonstrated by conflicts of pressure-related (mostly personal) and response-related (mostly communal) driving forces. Felling of trees (oaks), grazing of forests, meadows and fallows, masting, use of wild apple/pear trees and fishing were strictly regulated. Cutting of leaf-fodder, grazing of green crops, burning of forest litter and the polluting of streams were prohibited. The collecting of other wild fruit species, medicinal plants and fungi was not regulated. Marketing by villagers and inviting outsiders to use the ecosystem services were strictly regulated, and mostly prohibited. Szekelys recognized at least 71 folk habitat types, understood ecological regeneration and degradation processes, the history of their landscape and the management possibilities of ecosystem services. Some aspects of LEEK were so well known within Szekely communities that they were not made explicit in village laws, others remained implicit because they were not related to regulations. Based on explicit and implicit information, we argue that Szekelys possessed detailed knowledge of the local ecological system. Moreover the world's first known explicit mention of ecosystem services ("Benefits that are provided by Nature for free") originated from this region from 1786.
The increase in the speed of land-cover change experienced worldwide is becoming a growing concern. Major socio-economic transitions, such as the breakdown of socialism in Europe, may lead to particularly high rates of landscape transformations. In this paper we examined the loss of semi-natural grasslands in Hungary between 1987 and 1999. We studied the relationship between 9 potential driving forces and the fate of grasslands using logistic GLMs. Grassland loss was found to be very high (1.31 % per year), which is far higher than either before or after this period. The most influential predictors of grassland loss were environmental and landscape characteristics (soil type, area of remnant grassland patches), and the socio-economic context (distance to paved road, and nearest settlement, human population density). Several processes and relationships can only be understood from a historical perspective (e.g. large extent of afforestation, strong decrease of soil water table). Grassland loss during the study period emerged as a consequence of survival strategies of individual farmers seeking adaptation to the changing environmental and socio-economic conditions, and not urbanization and agricultural intensification which are the main underlying drivers for the ongoing landscape transformations in most parts of the developed world. Though globalization increasingly influences local land use decisions, reconstructing and modelling recent landscape changes cannot be done without a proper understanding of local history and culture. Our analysis shows the importance of large-area yet high resolution landscape change research, which may reveal unexpected patterns of land cover change, undetected at coarser scales.
Michael R Coughlan
added a research item
Regional-and biome-scale paleoecological analyses and archaeological syntheses in the mountain landscapes of the western Pyrenees suggest that the Long Anthropocene began with agropastoral land use at the onset of the Neolithic. Historical and geographic analyses emphasize the marginality of the western Pyrenees and the role of enforced social norms exacted by intense solidarities of kin and neighbors in agropastoral production. Both are satisfying and simple narratives, yet neither offers a realistic framework for understanding complex processes or the contingency and behavioral variability of human agents in transforming a landscape. The Long Anthropocene in the western Pyrenees was a spatially and temporally heterogeneous and asynchronous process, and the evidence frequently departs from conventional narratives about human landscape degradation in this agropastoral situation. A complementary place-based strategy that draws on geoarchaeological, biophysical, and socio-ecological factors is used to examine human causality and environmental resilience and demonstrate their relationship with the sustainability of mountain landscapes of the western Pyrenees over medium to long time intervals.
Matteo Garbarino
added 2 research items
The dataset is composed by 32 rasters representing land cover maps of 16 landscapes (1954 - 2012 period) divided by mountain region membership (Alps or Apennines). Metadata - Cell Size (X, Y): 1, 1 meters - Coordinate System: WGS84 UTM Zone 32N (EPSG: 32632) - NoData Value: 255 - Data type: 8 Bit unsigned integer - Format: GeoTIFF - Compression: LZW - Land cover classification: object-oriented segmentation and video photointerpretation (Garbarino et al. 2013). - Land class values: 1 = forest, 2 = grassland, 3 = cropland, 4 = human, 5 = unvegetated
ContextLand use legacies of human activities and recent post-abandonment forest expansion have extensively modified numerous forest landscapes throughout the European mountain ranges. Drivers of forest expansion and the effects of changes on ecosystem services are currently debated.Objectives(i) To compare landscape transition patterns of the Alps and the Apennines (Italy), (ii) to quantify the dominant landscape transitions, and (iii) to measure the influence of climatic, topographic and anthropogenic driving factors.Methods Land cover changes and landscape pattern modifications were investigated at the regional (over 28 years, Alps and Apennines, Corine Land Cover dataset) and landscape scale (over 58 years, 8 Alpine and 8 Apennine sites, aerial images). The main driving factors of post-abandonment forest landscape dynamics were assessed with a statistical modeling approach.ResultsForest expansion was the dominant landscape transition at both Italian mountain ranges, with an annual overall rate of 0.6%. Forest expansion was more extensive at lower elevations in the Apennines where climate is less limiting and extensive abandoned croplands and pastures were available throughout the study period. Distance from pre-existing forest edges in the Alps and elevation in the Apennines emerged as the most important predictors.Conclusions Forest expansion is most rapid where areas of recent agricultural abandonment coincide with favorable climatic conditions. Thus the prediction of forest landscape dynamics, in these mountain forests with a long history of cultural use, requires knowledge of how the magnitude and timing of land use changes intersect spatially and temporally with suitable conditions for tree establishment and growth.
Giuseppe Bazan
added a research item
Plant communities are complex and dynamic elements of the landscape, intertwined with both natural factors and human activities. Vegetation series reflect the environmental characteristics of the landscape, but also the anthropic impact, one of the exogenous forces that most profoundly affects the landscape formation process. This paper aims to investigate the interactions between long-term human settlement catchment areas and vegetation series. The case study area of the Sicani Mountains (Central-Western Sicily) proved to be an ideal place to perform GIS-based spatial analysis in order to compare a data set of rural archaeological sites and land units created through the mapping of vegetation series. The existence of a causal link between vegetation series and human settlement patterns allows us, as well as future researchers, to find new explanations for the formation of the multifaceted Mediterranean rural landscape.
Aarón M. Santana Cordero
added 3 research items
Coastal areas have been under pressure throughout history. Today these environments are occupied by a large portion of the world population and are dramatically affected by human activities. For a better understanding of the natural evolution of coastal ecosystems and their present state, historical studies are necessary. For this purpose researchers should apply methods that combine different historical sources, such as historic mapping and oral sources. In this paper we examine land uses that led to the disappearance of an arid coastal dune system, and the way to study it. Results reveal that each different land use had a different impact on the environment, and this was in correspondence with socio-economic needs. Finally, we discuss the results obtained and the methodology used.
The Global Change is affecting coastal areas and leading them to degradation. This is severe in sand dunes and sand plains, since they are very fragile ecosystems. The objective of this paper is to characterize the relationship between the historical land uses and the aeolian sedimentary dynamics in an arid coastal system, the island of La Graciosa (Canary Islands) since the second half of the 18th century. The methodology is based on the interpretation of historical documents, aerial photographs and oral testimonies to characterize the changes in the island, both in terms of land use and aeolian geomorphology. The results suggest the existence of six stages, during which the intensity of human pressure on the environment changed. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
The reconstruction of environmental conditions allows us to categorize an area before it has suffered disturbances or even completely disappeared. The aim of this study is to gain insight into the natural conditions of the Guanarteme dune system (Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain) before it disappeared, focusing on studying its processes, landforms and vegetation cover. To this end, both primary sources and bibliographical references have been used as the basis of a description for the environmental state of this system between the 15th century and the middle of the 20th century, when the system was considered extinct. The different shapes and forms of the dunes over the centuries have enabled us to study the system evolution: its landforms have changed both in shape and number, as has the volume of sediments. This variation becomes obvious when we study the appearance of the system at the different dates of analysis. These changes are linked to the aeolian sediment dynamics, which are fairly stable from the 15th century until the last third of the 19th century, when a large amount of sediment in circulation was observed together with the shift of large aeolian landforms.
Giuseppe Bazan
added a research item
This paper examines the forest communities dominated by Olea europaea L. var. sylvestris (Mill.) Lehr. that have been described up until now in the Mediterranean Region (including other isolated extrazonal areas in the northwestern Iberian Peninsula and in Northern Turkey) as more or less evolved aspects of woods, microwoods and high maquis that principally tend to make up climacic and edapho-climacic “series heads”. These formations maintain a significant large-scale distributive potential within the infra- and thermomediterranean bioclimate belts (with a few penetrations into the mesomediterranean) with a dry-subhumid (and sometimes humid) ombrotype; however, they are currently quite rare and fragmented in the wake of large-scale deforestation and the impoverishment of old-growth communities dominated by a species known to live for millennia. The study was conducted through the analysis of phytosociological data taken from the scientific literature and other unpublished data regarding North-Africa (Morocco, Algeria), the Iberian Peninsula, the Balearic Islands as well as other islands from the Tyrrhenian area (Sardinia, Corsica, Sicily and its minor islands), the Italian Peninsula, the Balkan Peninsula, the Aegean region, Turkey and the southern Anatolian coast. A comparison between the different communities has shown a high floristic and physiognomic-structural homogeneity that justifies their categorization in the Quercetea ilicis class. The biogeographic and ecologic vicariance shown by the same formations within the large Mediterranean distribution range makes it possible to subdivide them into the following orders and alliances: 1) Pistacio-Rhamnetalia alaterni [A) all. Tetraclini articulatae-Pistacion atlanticae (suball. Pistacienion atlanticae); B) all. Asparago albi-Rhamnion oleoidis; C) all. Oleo sylvestris-Ceratonion siliquae]; 2) Quercetalia calliprini [D) all. Ceratonio-Pistacion lentisci]; 3) Quercetalia ilicis [E) all. Querco rotundifoliae-Oleion sylvestris; F) all. Fraxino orni-Quercion ilicis; G) all. Erico arboreae-Quercion ilicis; H) all. Arbuto unedonis-Laurion nobilis (suball. Arbuto-Laurenion nobilis)]. Regarding the syntaxonomical aspect: (i) two new associations are described [Hippocrepido emeroidis-Oleetum sylvestris and Junipero foetidissimae-Oleetum sylvestris]; (ii) two new associations [Phillyreo latifoliae-Oleetum sylvestris Barbero, Quézel & Rivas-Martínez ex Gianguzzi & Bazan ass. nova and Calicotomo intermediae-Oleetum sylvestris Quézel, Barbero, Benabid, Loisel & Rivas-Martínez 1988 ex Gianguzzi & Bazan ass. nova] and a new subassociation [Aro neglecti-Oleetum sylvestris Rivas-Martínez & Cantò 2002 corr. Rivas-Martínez & Cantò fraxinetosum angustifoliae Pérez Latorre, Galán de Mera, Deil & Cabezudo ex Gianguzzi & Bazan subass. nova] are leptotypified; (iii) a nomen novum of the association is redefined [Rhamno laderoi-Oleastretum sylvestris (Cantò, Ladero, Perez-Chiscano & Rivas-Martínez 2011) Gianguzzi & Bazan nom. nov.].
Aarón M. Santana Cordero
added a research item
A review of the historical ecology literature led us to the realization that there was an important gap in terms of recognized methodological procedures and techniques. Contributions along these lines are sparse. However, some publications (book chapters and papers), some of them case studies, contain methodological material of great interest. Therefore, all these materials needed to be gathered together and put in a historical ecology methodological context. With this in mind, this article focuses on the methods employed to date in historical ecology when working with qualitative and graphic materials. In addition, it incorporates an exploration of the links between these methods and those used in general in qualitative research. Historical ecology requires source criticism methods (a source critical approach which offers guidelines for both source and source reliability assessment) and time line-based methods for landscape change. Some of the techniques used in historical ecology, but not originate from it, are presented (historical maps, photointerpretation, repeat photography, and oral history). The methodological links between historical ecology and qualitative research are then explored, and, finally, a method for text analysis (thematic networks) is presented.
Michael R Coughlan
added a research item
We present a high-resolution geostatistical analysis of prehistoric archaeological site locations and land use footprints for the South Carolina Piedmont of North America using archaeological survey data, multivariate logistic regression techniques, and fuzzy set theory. Our analysis uses archaeological site locations and generalizations about prehistoric economic systems to quantitatively model land use footprints and to test hypotheses derived from the archaeology of human-environment interactions. Specifically, we test the differential influence of landscape suitability and historical contingency as factors differentially influencing site location in immediate and delayed return economies. Our results highlight temporal variability in the influence of material factors (landforms and the residuum of previous occupations) on the selection of settlement and land use locations over the long term. We argue that our results indicate high potential for land use legacies beginning with the introduction of ceramic technologies. These landscape legacies were likely positive for human populations in that they improved the quality of ecosystems services and the reliability of provisioning.
Michael R Coughlan
added a research item
Fire is one of the oldest and most important environmental management tools humans have at their disposal. Fire has long been a key component of human provisioning strategies, facilitating efficient manipulation of the distribution, productivity, and diversity of natural resources. In the past, archaeological programs largely ignored the significance of fire use to human evolution. New research programs, techniques, and interdisciplinary collaborations have begun to shed light on the relevance of fire use to archaeological science.
Juraj Lieskovsky
added 2 research items
A landscape is a palimpsest of the interactions between human activities and ecological dynamics. In an interdisciplinary perspective of dialogue between the ‘Two Cultures’ (Natural Sciences and Humanities), a study of a rural area has been carried out through a reading of plant ecosystems as signs of human impact. The purpose of this paper—as part of the project ‘Harvesting Memories’: Ecology and landscape archaeology of Castro/Giardinallo Valley and Mt. Barraù district (Corleone, Palermo, Sicily)—is to analyse the formative-processes of a Sicilian rural landscape and its changes in the last century. A key element in the reconstruction of the formation of the present landscape is the series of vegetation types which indicate the successive stages of different plant communities occurring in close relation with the human exploitation of natural resources (forestry, grazing, agriculture). An analytical frame for the landscape’s biography was generated through a diachronic comparison of images of the area in 1955 and the present day. The comparison in GIS of both spatial and typological changes in the different vegetation series, together with the calculation of a naturalness index Naturalness Evaluation Index, showed the trajectory the landscape (‘landscape-change map’) has undergone since the 1950s, with an increase in wooded and shrubbed areas and a reduction of pastures and cultivated areas.
We produced the first spatially explicit, cross-border, digital map of long term (160 years) land use in the Carpathian Ecoregion, the Hungarian part of the Pannonian plains and the historical region of Moravia in the Czech Republic. We mapped land use in a regular 2x2 km point grid. Our dataset comprises of 91,310 points covering 365,240 km2 in seven countries (Czechia, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Poland, Ukraine and Romania). We digitized three time layers: (1) for the Habsburg period, we used maps of the second Habsburg military survey from years 1819-1873 at the scale 1:28,800 and the Szatmari’s maps from years 1855-1858 at scale 1:57,600; (2) The World Wars period was covered by national topographic maps from years 1915-1945 and scales here ranged between 1:20,000-1:100,000; and (3) the Socialist period was mapped from national topographic maps for the years 1950-1983 at scales between 1:25,000-1:50,000. We collected metadata about the years of mapping and map sources. We used a hierarchical legend for our maps, so that the land use classification for the entire region consisted of nine categories at the most general level and of 22 categories depending on the period and a country.
Michael R Coughlan
added a research item
We examined the relationships between lightning-fire-prone environments, socioeconomic metrics, and documented use of broadcast fire by small-scale hunter-gatherer societies. Our approach seeks to reassess human-fire dynamics in biomes that are susceptible to lightning-triggered fires. We quantify global lightning-fire-prone environments using mean monthly lightning and climatological flammability, and then compare how well those environments and socioeconomic variables (population density, mobility, and subsistence type) serve as predictors of observed broadcast fire use from the ethnographic data. We use a logistic model for all vegetated, forested, and unforested biomes. Our global analysis of human-fire-landscape interaction in three hundred and thirty-nine hunter-gatherer groups demonstrates that lightning-fire-prone environments strongly predict for hunter-gatherer fire use. While we do not maintain that lightning-fire-prone environments determine the use of fire by small societies, they certainly appear to invite its use. Our results further suggest that discounting or ignoring human agency contradicts empirical evidence that hunter-gatherers used fire even in locations where lightning could explain the presence of fire. Paleoecological research on fire and hypothesis testing using global fire modeling should consider insights from human ecology in the interpretation of data and results. More broadly, our results suggest that small-scale societies can provide insight into sustainable fire management in lightning-fire-prone landscapes.
Jana Müllerová
added a research item
European forests have been copiously documented for centuries. However, forest-related archival sources were rarely utilised to their full potential, mainly because of the difficulties in producing compatible data from large amounts of very different sources. Furthermore, analysing such data for larger areas in high resolution was hardly possible prior to the emergence of historical GIS. This paper presents the geodatabase of the LONGWOOD project, which includes tens of thousands of pieces of information on forest history from the 11th to the 20th century for 3,567 townships in the eastern Czech Republic (c. 27,000 km²). The paper describes the challenges we met, briefly summarizes the results, evaluates the database in a worldwide context and introduces possible directions for future research.
Michael R Coughlan
added a research item
We test the hypothesis that prehistoric Native American land use influenced the Euro-Amer-ican settlement process in a South Carolina Piedmont landscape. Long term ecological studies demonstrate that land use legacies influence processes and trajectories in complex, coupled social and ecological systems. Native American land use likely altered the ecological and evolutionary feedback and trajectories of many North American landscapes. Yet, considerable debate revolves around the scale and extent of land use legacies of prehistoric Native Americans. At the core of this debate is the question of whether or not European col-onists settled a mostly "wild" landscape or an already "humanized" landscape. We use statistical event analysis to model the effects of prehistoric Native American settlement on the rate of Colonial land grants (1749-1775). Our results reveal how abandoned Native Ameri-can settlements were among the first areas claimed and homesteaded by Euro-Americans. We suggest that prehistoric land use legacies served as key focal nodes in the Colonial era settlement process. As a consequence, localized prehistoric land use legacies likely helped structure the long term, landscape-to regional-level ecological inheritances that resulted from Euro-American settlement.
Hana Skokanova
added a research item
The paper focuses on land cover development in five military training areas (MTAs) in the Czech Republic during the past 180 years and tries to find answers to causes of similarities or differences of this development. Land cover development was researched on the basis of old military topographic maps and aerial photographs. The results show that there are two groups of MTAs that show similarities in land cover development up to the 1960s. These are Březina and Brdy, and Hradiště and Libavá. In the first group, woody vegetation dominated while in the second group open landscape was prevalent. Also the first group was characterized by little population and establishment of military camps already in the 1920s-1930s while the second group was characterized by rather dense population and similar environmental conditions. All MTAs experienced drop of population after WWII which resulted in drop of built-up area and open landscape and increase in woody vegetation area. With the optimisation of MTAs the parts where intensive military training occurs will likely stay preserved while the rest of the areas will be used for ecological agriculture or so called soft tourism.
Thanasis Kizos
added an update
Michael R Coughlan
added 2 research items
People in the French Western Pyrenees have used fire for millennia in order to shape and manage landscapes. This history has left cultural and ecological legacies that both reflect and ensure the relative persistence of landscape patterns and processes. In this paper I draw on ethnographic research, ethnohistorical evidence, and Bayesian spatial analyses of historical fire use locations and land use maps to shed some light on human-fire-landscape dynamics in the Pyrenees for the years 1830 to 2011. I show how cultural and ecological legacies reflect a self-organized fire management regime that emerges from fire use driven by the production goals of individual households. I frame the self-organizing dynamic inherent in Pyrenean pastoral fire use as “landscape memory.” This conclusion has implications for the future direction of fire-related conservation policy for the Pyrenees and for analogous systems characterized by self-organized land management regimes.
The human use of fire is a major disturbance factor shaping the long term composition and patterning of temperate forest landscapes. Yet, knowledge of the role of human agency in the historical dynamics of fire in temperate forests remains vague. This paper presents a cross-scale Bayesian Weights of Evidence analysis of change in the spatial patterns of fire use over the last 180 years for a village territory in the Basque portion of the French Pyrenees. Research investigated the historical relationships between social institutions that control land use, the spatial patterning of fire use, and landscape change. Analysis considered the spatial contexts within which humans use and manage land: the household institution and the parcel unit of land management. Bayesian methods established statistically significant associations between social and ecological factors driving fire use and landscape change. These associations suggest that social institutions differentially affected fire use patterns through inherited constraints. The resulting socioecological legacies helped to explain the spatial patterns of landscape change. Uncertainty highlighted in the modeling process suggests that we need a better understanding of the historical ecological dynamics of household institutions and land use change in order to better explain relationships between variability in land use intensity and the fire regime.
Anda Fescenko
added 3 research items
Medium-scale historical maps are often the only cartographic source of former forest area distribution on a regional level. In conjunction with a database of current distribution of species or functional traits, maps may be valuable tool for studying impact of previous land use on ecosystems. In this study a heterogeneous set of historical maps was used to reconstruct the multi-temporal pattern of the forest area in a moderately forested region (5180 km2) of southern Latvia during the last 220 years. Changes in the total forest cover were assessed in four time slices and compared with available historical statistical data. To validate the obtained multi-temporal data for ecological studies, the impact of continuous forest cover on the present-day mean stand area and tree species richness derived from the present-day forest inventory database of 94 886 stands was quantified by bivariate and regression analyses. We found no significant impact of inaccuracy of the historical maps on the entire forest continuity pattern of the study area. In particular, the diversity metrics dependencies on the forest continuity can be described by quadratic regression models with coefficients of determination close to one. We also found that the mean stand area is for about 18% larger in woodlands with longer forest continuity irrespective of the forest type. The older woodland, the less difference was found between boreal deciduous and nemoral deciduous forests in terms of tree species richness.
A set of medium-scale historical maps was used to reconstruct changes in spatial patterns of forest area during the last 220 years in an agricultural matrix of northeastern Europe (Zemgale region, Latvia). Changes in total forest area by soils were determined, as well as the time period of continuous forest cover. Proportion of protected area for each soil trophic group was also calculated. Patterns of recent forest development differed between soil trophic groups. Afforestation occurred mainly on wet and poor soils in the 19th and 20th centuries, while the proportion of woodland area on fertile soils typical for nemoral forests was fairly stable. Only 1% of the fertile soil area has been covered by continuous forest for more than 220 years, and only 11% of them are protected. Nemoral deciduous forests cover only 15% of their potential natural vegetation area of forested eutrophic soils. Therefore, in regard to habitat protection that is representative of natural distribution of ecosystems, priority in conservation should be given to forests on fertile soils.
Woodland key habitats (WKHs) form a network of local biodiversity hotspots in human-dominated landscapes of northern Europe. They have been designated based on the presence of old-growth species and structures, and are considered to indicate long-term forest cover. To test whether WKHs do particularly occur in continuous forest land and to explore the scale dependence of relationships between WKH presence and their historical and environmental properties, we analysed them at five spatial scales (from stand to landscape: 80–2500 m) and referring to four reference years (1790, 1860, 1910, and 2010) using univariate and multivariate analyses. We upscaled the georeferenced data using a moving window approach. The study area encompassed 94,886 contiguous forest stands in a boreo-nemoral region of southern Latvia (5178 km2) with a relatively short history of intensive land use. At the scale of stands, the presence of WKHs, ranging from 0.1 to 59 ha in size, best corresponded to highly variable land-use histories 100–220 years ago such as natural succession on abandoned land, drained bogs and wetlands, and only partly to continuous forest cover for more than 220 years. We identified short-term (50–70 years) and small-scale (up to 250 m) gaps in past forest cover as significant positive predictors of WKH presence, which resemble patterns caused by natural disturbances. At broader scales (800–2500 m), best explanatory variables were the presence of old forest fragments throughout the landscape, at least 100 years of continuous forest cover, changes in forest cover, i.e., afforestation, between 1790 and 1860, and the proximity to bogs and rivers. We also found that correlations between WKH presence and forest patch density converted from negative coefficients at small spatio-temporal scales to positive ones at broader spatio-temporal scales. Our results highlight the importance of using multi-scale information on land-use history to improve both the understanding and the management of biodiversity in cultural landscapes. In brief, instead of long-term continuous forest cover, we found a surprisingly diverse and dynamic land-use history in places that have been designated as WKHs. Full text http://rdcu.be/uxER
Hana Skokanova
added 5 research items
The influence of abiotic conditions on land-use development since the nineteenth century is assessed in case studies from the Czech and Slovak Carpathians. Hypotheses claim that significant land-use changes have occurred, but without pronounced differences because of similar abiotic conditions in the case studies. Abiotic conditions are expressed by physiotopes, which contain information on georelief, lithology, and soil. Our results indicate a high rate of land-use change in both case studies, and a detailed analysis of changes in two sequential periods reveals significant differences in five of the six periods compared in these case studies. Areas along state border seem to be more affected by anthropogenic changes as the proportion of plots with stable land use was only 25.7% in the Czech area (Starý Hrozenkov, Vápenice, and Vyškovec) compared to 47.6% in the Slovak area (Lietavská Svinná-Babkov). Repeated land-use changes occurred mostly in valley floors and adjacent slopes. Land-use changes in the study areas are only partly explained by the abiotic conditions in physiotope and morphometric attributes, as shown by multiple correspondence analysis. The crucial difference in land use is in different settlement structures, which reflect differences in historical development.
The long-term development of water bodies is investigated in this article using the cases of two river basins with similar natural conditions: the Kyjovka and Trkmanka River Basins in the Czech Republic. Using old topographic maps, land use development was assessed and the analysis of driving forces of land use changes was carried out. The essential land use changes in these areas are connected with the processes of agricultural intensification and urbanisation. The largest area of water bodies was recorded in both river basins in 1763. In the second half of the 19 th century, the disappearance of most water bodies in the two basins was significantly affected by the above-mentioned driving forces. After World War II, some of the water bodies in the Kyjovka River Basin were restored and new ponds were established. In contrast, no significant water bodies were restored in the Trkmanka River Basin. Shrnutí Dlouhodobý vývoj vodních ploch v povodí Kyjovky a Trkmanky v kontextu využití krajiny (Česká republika) Tato studie zkoumá dlouhodobý vývoj vodních ploch na příkladu dvou povodí s podobnými přírodními podmínkami (Povodí Kyjovky a povodí Trkmanky v České republice). S využitím starých topografických map byl vyhodnocen vývoj využití krajiny a proveden rozbor hybných sil změn využití krajiny. Zásadní změny využití krajiny jsou v tomto území spojeny s procesy zemědělské intenzifikace a urbanizace. Nejvyšší výměra vodních ploch byla zaznamenána v obou povodích v roce 1763. V druhé polovině 19. století se významně projevily zásadní hybné síly vedoucí k zániku většiny vodních ploch v obou povodích. Po druhé světové válce došlo k obnově některých vodních ploch v povodí Kyjovky, zároveň byly zakládány i nové rybníky. Naopak v povodí Trkmanky nebyly obnoveny žádné významné vodní plochy.
The article compares and points out differences in driving forces of four main landscape change processes that shaped post-socialist countries and old democratic countries of Central Europe during the last two centuries. Studying landscape change processes and corresponding driving forces helps in understanding patterns of present landscape and can help among others in better prediction of future landscape change trends. Here, the presented results are based on review of scientific articles published in peer-reviewed journals between 2000 and 2014. Driving forces affecting these processes were grouped into four categories. Economic forces drove mainly agricultural intensification; agricultural land abandonment and urbanisation and were pronounced especially in the second half of the 20th century and at the beginning of the 21st century. Technological driving forces affected agricultural intensification especially in the 19th century and the second half of the 20th century while cultural driving forces had the biggest impact on urbanisation at the beginning of the 21st century. Political driving forces affected agricultural intensification, urbanisation as well as agricultural land abandonment and were pronounced mainly during the second half of the 20th century in the post-socialist countries. Political forces in the form of subsidies drove agricultural extensification at the beginning of the 21st century. The drivers for the agricultural intensification as well as urbanisation seem to be similar for both old democratic and post-socialist countries. In contrast, agricultural land abandonment in the old democratic countries was driven by technological, cultural and economic driving forces while in the post-socialist countries the political driving forces were mainly responsible. Changes in systems for subsidies and changes in the agricultural commodity markets are also responsible for different frequencies and rates of extensification of agriculture between the two groups of countries.
Jana Müllerová
added 3 research items
Forests cover approximately one third of Central Europe. Based on a century of research tradition in phytosociology, potential vegetation mapping and palynology, oak (Quercus sp.) and European beech (Fagus sylvatica) are considered to be the natural dominants at low and middle altitudes, respectively. By contrast, currently many coniferous forests (especially of Picea abies) can be found especially at mid-altitudes, but these are thought to have resulted from forestry plantations in the past 200 years. Both nature conservation and forestry policy seek to promote broadleaved trees at the expense of conifers. However, several older and more recent papers pointed out discrepancies between conservation guidelines (included in Natura 2000) and historical/palaeoecological data with regard to the distribution of conifers. In this interdisciplinary paper, our aim was to bring new evidence into the debate on the conservation implications of coniferous tree species at mid-altitudes in Central Europe. We created a pollen-based vegetation and land-cover model for a highland area of 11,300 km(2) in the Czech Republic and assessed tree species composition in the forests before the onset of modern forestry based on 18(th) -century archival sources. The landscape model and pre-forestry archival evidence unequivocally demonstrated the dominance of coniferous trees in the study region throughout the entire Holocene. Broadleaved trees were present in a much smaller area than envisaged by current ideas of natural vegetation. Rather than casting doubt on the principles of Central European nature conservation in general, our results highlighted the necessity of detailed regional investigations as well as the importance of past data in challenging established notions on the natural distribution of tree species. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
The colonization of European landscapes during and after the Middle Ages has been studied by historical geographers for more than a century. While many details of colonization processes are well understood, landscape-scale studies are largely missing not least because of the difficulties in obtaining compatible temporal data for thousands of villages and the difficulties researchers had to face in processing such data prior to the emergence of historical GIS. In addition, several aspect of colonization history have so far received little attention. One such aspect is trends in the size and shape of the landscape units created in consecutive colonization waves. In this paper we use temporal data – the first mentions of each township in archival documents and a relative chronology based on village layout type – and topographic and environmental data – area, perimeter, area/perimeter ratio, average elevation, annual average temperature, annual average precipitation, prevailing bedrock and soil fertility for each township – to study the process of colonization in 3574 townships in the eastern half of the Czech Republic from the eleventh to the twentieth century. We demonstrate that first mentions in archival documents and current township boundaries can be successfully connected and interpreted at the landscape scale. Our results confirm that colonization progressed from lowlands towards higher altitudes. Less easily anticipated was the pattern in the size of current townships along the temporal gradient specified by first mentions. A significant connection was also observed between the perimeter/area ratio of current townships and spatiotemporal processes, but this pattern was not simply dependent on topography. Current township sizes appear to have been significantly influenced by colonization history, which we offer as a working hypothesis for further research in medieval and post-medieval European landscape colonization.
Michael R Coughlan
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