Holocene Environmental and Climatic Changes at Gorgo Basso, a Coastal Lake in Southern Sicily, Italy. Tinner, W.; van Leeuwen, J. F. N.; Colombaroli, D.; Vescovi, E.; van der Knaap, W. O.; Henne, P. D.; Pasta, S.; D'Angelo, S.; and La Mantia, T. 28(15-16):1498–1510.
Holocene Environmental and Climatic Changes at Gorgo Basso, a Coastal Lake in Southern Sicily, Italy [link]Paper  doi  abstract   bibtex   
We used a new sedimentary record to reconstruct the Holocene vegetation and fire history of Gorgo Basso, a coastal lake in south-western Sicily (Italy). Pollen and charcoal data suggest a fire-prone open grassland near the site until ca 10,000~cal yr BP (8050~cal BC), when Pistacia shrubland expanded and fire activity declined, probably in response to increased moisture availability. Evergreen Olea europaea woods expanded ca 8400 to decline abruptly at 8200~cal yr BP, when climatic conditions became drier at other sites in the Mediterranean region. Around 7000~cal yr BP evergreen broadleaved forests (Quercus ilex, Quercus suber and O. europaea) expanded at the cost of open communities. The expansion of evergreen broadleaved forests was associated with a decline of fire and of local Neolithic (Ficus carica-Cerealia based) agriculture that had initiated ca 500 years earlier. Vegetational, fire and land-use changes ca 7000~cal yr BP were probably caused by increased precipitation that resulted from (insolation-forced) weakening of the monsoon and Hadley circulation ca 8000-6000~cal yr BP. Low fire activity and dense coastal evergreen forests persisted until renewed human activity (probably Greek, respectively Roman colonists) disrupted the forest ca 2700~cal yr BP (750 BC) and 2100~cal yr BP (150 BC) to gain open land for agriculture. The intense use of fire for this purpose induced the expansion of open maquis, garrigue, and grassland-prairie environments (with an increasing abundance of the native palm Chamaerops humilis). Prehistoric land-use phases after the Bronze Age seem synchronous with those at other sites in southern and central Europe, possibly as a result of climatic forcing. Considering the response of vegetation to Holocene climatic variability as well as human impact we conclude that under (semi-)natural conditions evergreen broadleaved Q. ilex-O. europaea (s.l.) forests would still dominate near Gorgo Basso. However, forecasted climate change and aridification may lead to a situation similar to that before 7000~cal yr BP and thus trigger a rapid collapse of the few relict evergreen broadleaved woodlands in coastal Sicily and elsewhere in the southern Mediterranean region.
@article{tinnerHoloceneEnvironmentalClimatic2009,
  title = {Holocene Environmental and Climatic Changes at {{Gorgo Basso}}, a Coastal Lake in Southern {{Sicily}}, {{Italy}}},
  author = {Tinner, Willy and van Leeuwen, Jacqueline F. N. and Colombaroli, Daniele and Vescovi, Elisa and van der Knaap, W. O. and Henne, Paul D. and Pasta, Salvatore and D'Angelo, Stefania and La Mantia, Tommaso},
  date = {2009-07},
  journaltitle = {Quaternary Science Reviews},
  volume = {28},
  pages = {1498--1510},
  issn = {0277-3791},
  doi = {10.1016/j.quascirev.2009.02.001},
  url = {https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2009.02.001},
  abstract = {We used a new sedimentary record to reconstruct the Holocene vegetation and fire history of Gorgo Basso, a coastal lake in south-western Sicily (Italy). Pollen and charcoal data suggest a fire-prone open grassland near the site until ca 10,000~cal yr BP (8050~cal BC), when Pistacia shrubland expanded and fire activity declined, probably in response to increased moisture availability. Evergreen Olea europaea woods expanded ca 8400 to decline abruptly at 8200~cal yr BP, when climatic conditions became drier at other sites in the Mediterranean region. Around 7000~cal yr BP evergreen broadleaved forests (Quercus ilex, Quercus suber and O. europaea) expanded at the cost of open communities. The expansion of evergreen broadleaved forests was associated with a decline of fire and of local Neolithic (Ficus carica-Cerealia based) agriculture that had initiated ca 500 years earlier. Vegetational, fire and land-use changes ca 7000~cal yr BP were probably caused by increased precipitation that resulted from (insolation-forced) weakening of the monsoon and Hadley circulation ca 8000-6000~cal yr BP. Low fire activity and dense coastal evergreen forests persisted until renewed human activity (probably Greek, respectively Roman colonists) disrupted the forest ca 2700~cal yr BP (750 BC) and 2100~cal yr BP (150 BC) to gain open land for agriculture. The intense use of fire for this purpose induced the expansion of open maquis, garrigue, and grassland-prairie environments (with an increasing abundance of the native palm Chamaerops humilis). Prehistoric land-use phases after the Bronze Age seem synchronous with those at other sites in southern and central Europe, possibly as a result of climatic forcing. Considering the response of vegetation to Holocene climatic variability as well as human impact we conclude that under (semi-)natural conditions evergreen broadleaved Q. ilex-O. europaea (s.l.) forests would still dominate near Gorgo Basso. However, forecasted climate change and aridification may lead to a situation similar to that before 7000~cal yr BP and thus trigger a rapid collapse of the few relict evergreen broadleaved woodlands in coastal Sicily and elsewhere in the southern Mediterranean region.},
  keywords = {*imported-from-citeulike-INRMM,~INRMM-MiD:c-4711819,charcoal,climate-change,holocene,pollen,sicily},
  number = {15-16},
  options = {useprefix=true}
}
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