Pollen stratigraphy of Holocene peat sites in Eastern Liguria, Northern Italy

Macphail, Gillian Mary (1988) Pollen stratigraphy of Holocene peat sites in Eastern Liguria, Northern Italy. Doctoral thesis, City of London Polytechnic.


This thesis presents the results of a research project designed to reconstruct the Holocene vegetation history of eastern Liguria. The study area lies within the northern Apennines, a region from which few detailed late Quaternary palaeoenvironmental records had boon published and prior to this study no radiocarbon-dated pollen profiles had been reported. Presented hare are the results of pollen-stratigraphical investigations (including pollen concentration and pollen preservation data) from six Holocene peat sites, augmented by twelve radiocarbon dates. The data provide a first regional assessment of the mid- and late Holocene vegetation succession in Liguria as well as a detailed examination of the problems of sampling and interpretation encountered.

The sites are situated at a range of altitudes between 831 m to 1481 m and consist of both infilled basins within drift deposits as well as shallow shelf sites. However most of the peat sequences began to form only 4000 to 5000 years ago. At three sites there are strong indications that peat formation only occurred after major disruption of local soils which locally may have been initiated by human (Chalcolithic) forest disturbances. Nevertheless there is also a lack of known early Holocene peat or lake sediments in much of northwestern Italy suggesting widespread climatic conditions inimical to peat development during that period.

The biostratigraphical data indicate that Abies forests were common at altitudes of over 1000 a during the mid-Holocene but these declined from approximately 2000 BP and subsequently, woodlands were dominated by Fagus. Certain types suggest that these changes in forest composition could have been related to human activity, although forest clearance appears to have been restricted. The evidence overall suggests that there was major disruption of local soils during the mid- and late Holocene and it is suggested, therefore, that changes in soil moisture regimes possibly as a result of human disturbance, may have led to permanent changes in the vegetation cover.

384614.pdf - Published Version

Download (13MB) | Preview


Downloads per month over past year

Downloads each year

View Item View Item