Few examples of natural forest remain near the Mediterranean coast. Therefore, it is difficult to study how coastal forests respond to climatic change or their resilience to human impact. We developed new sedimentary record of Holocene vegetation and fire history at Lago Preola, a coastal lake in southwestern Sicily (Italy). In order to verify the existence of forest at large scale on the coast, we compare pollen from Lago Preola, a medium-sized lake (33 ha), to Gorgo Basso, a small lake (3 ha) located nearby with the aim of separating local from extra-local vegetation dynamics through time using pollen percentages and influx. We then compare Lago Preola pollen to the record from Biviere di Gela, a large lagoon (120 ha) situated 160 km to the east in southern Sicily, to examine differences in vegetation dynamics between the two coastal areas during the Holocene. Lake-level reconstructions and ostracode analyses from Lago Preola provide vegetation-independent evidence of climate change, and help to disentangle human and climatic impacts on vegetation. Pollen data indicate Pistacia-dominated shrublands replaced open grasslands in the region surrounding Lago Preola by 9500 cal yr BP. This change coincided with rising lake levels and the development of an ostracode fauna typical of fresh waters. Evergreen forest dominated by Quercus ilex and Olea europaea started to expand by 7000 cal BP and consolidated at 6500 cal yr BP, when lake levels were near their Holocene high. Similarities between pollen from Lago Preola and Gorgo Basso demonstrate that forest was the dominant vegetation type in coastal Sicily during the middle Holocene at both regional and local scales, and even developed in the drier climatic setting around Biviere di Gela. Lake levels fell at Lago Preola after 7000 cal yr BP, with a strong decline accompanied by increasing salinity after 4500 cal yr BP. However, no transition in vegetation matched these inferred hydrological changes. Instead, forests persisted in the surrounding region until 2200 cal BP when human disturbance intensified. We propose that different climatic factors control lake levels and vegetation in coastal Mediterranean ecosystems. Whereas lake levels are most sensitive to the abundance of winter precipitation, coastal forests depend on spring precipitation and are limited by the length of summer drought. Moisture availability remained suitable for evergreen forests in coastal Sicily during the late Holocene, and humans, not a drier climate drove the regional forest decline.

Calò, C., Henne, P., Curry, B., Magny, M., Vescovi, E., LA MANTIA, T., et al. (2012). Spatio-temporal patterns of Holocene vegetation change in southern Sicily. PALAEOGEOGRAPHY PALAEOCLIMATOLOGY PALAEOECOLOGY, 323, 110-122 [10.1016/j.palaeo.2012.01.038].

Spatio-temporal patterns of Holocene vegetation change in southern Sicily

LA MANTIA, Tommaso;
2012

Abstract

Few examples of natural forest remain near the Mediterranean coast. Therefore, it is difficult to study how coastal forests respond to climatic change or their resilience to human impact. We developed new sedimentary record of Holocene vegetation and fire history at Lago Preola, a coastal lake in southwestern Sicily (Italy). In order to verify the existence of forest at large scale on the coast, we compare pollen from Lago Preola, a medium-sized lake (33 ha), to Gorgo Basso, a small lake (3 ha) located nearby with the aim of separating local from extra-local vegetation dynamics through time using pollen percentages and influx. We then compare Lago Preola pollen to the record from Biviere di Gela, a large lagoon (120 ha) situated 160 km to the east in southern Sicily, to examine differences in vegetation dynamics between the two coastal areas during the Holocene. Lake-level reconstructions and ostracode analyses from Lago Preola provide vegetation-independent evidence of climate change, and help to disentangle human and climatic impacts on vegetation. Pollen data indicate Pistacia-dominated shrublands replaced open grasslands in the region surrounding Lago Preola by 9500 cal yr BP. This change coincided with rising lake levels and the development of an ostracode fauna typical of fresh waters. Evergreen forest dominated by Quercus ilex and Olea europaea started to expand by 7000 cal BP and consolidated at 6500 cal yr BP, when lake levels were near their Holocene high. Similarities between pollen from Lago Preola and Gorgo Basso demonstrate that forest was the dominant vegetation type in coastal Sicily during the middle Holocene at both regional and local scales, and even developed in the drier climatic setting around Biviere di Gela. Lake levels fell at Lago Preola after 7000 cal yr BP, with a strong decline accompanied by increasing salinity after 4500 cal yr BP. However, no transition in vegetation matched these inferred hydrological changes. Instead, forests persisted in the surrounding region until 2200 cal BP when human disturbance intensified. We propose that different climatic factors control lake levels and vegetation in coastal Mediterranean ecosystems. Whereas lake levels are most sensitive to the abundance of winter precipitation, coastal forests depend on spring precipitation and are limited by the length of summer drought. Moisture availability remained suitable for evergreen forests in coastal Sicily during the late Holocene, and humans, not a drier climate drove the regional forest decline.
Settore AGR/05 - Assestamento Forestale E Selvicoltura
Calò, C., Henne, P., Curry, B., Magny, M., Vescovi, E., LA MANTIA, T., et al. (2012). Spatio-temporal patterns of Holocene vegetation change in southern Sicily. PALAEOGEOGRAPHY PALAEOCLIMATOLOGY PALAEOECOLOGY, 323, 110-122 [10.1016/j.palaeo.2012.01.038].
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/10447/64629
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