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Insights into the evolution of the young Lake Ohrid ecosystem and vegetation succession from a southern European refugium during the Early Pleistocene

Panagiotopoulos, Konstantinos; Holtvoeth, Jens; Kouli, Katerina; Marinova, Elena; Francke, Alexander; Cvetkoska, Aleksandra; Jovanovska, Elena; Lacey, Jack H.; Lyons, Emma T.; Buckel, Connie; Bertini, Adele; Donders, Timme; Just, Janna; Leicher, Niklas; Leng, Melanie J. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1115-5166; Melles, Martin; Pancost, Richard D.; Sadori, Laura; Tauber, Paul; Vogel, Hendrik; Wagner, Bernd; Wilke, Thomas. 2020 Insights into the evolution of the young Lake Ohrid ecosystem and vegetation succession from a southern European refugium during the Early Pleistocene. Quaternary Science Reviews, 227, 106044. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2019.106044

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Abstract/Summary

Mediterranean mid-altitude sites are critical for the survival of plant species allowing for elevational vegetation shifts in response to high-amplitude climate variability. Pollen records from the southern Balkans have underlined the importance of the region in preserving plant diversity over at least the last half a million years. So far, there are no records of vegetation and climate dynamics from Balkan refugia with an Early Pleistocene age. Here we present a unique palynological archive from such a refugium, the Lake Ohrid basin, recording continuously floristic diversity and vegetation succession under obliquity-paced climate oscillations. Palynological data are complemented by biomarker, diatom, carbonate isotope and sedimentological data to identify the mechanisms controlling shifts in the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems within the lake and its catchment. The study interval encompasses four complete glacial-interglacial cycles (1365–1165 ka; MIS 43–35). Within the first 100 kyr of lake ontogeny, lake size and depth increase before the lake system enters a new equilibrium state as observed in a distinct shift in biotic communities and sediment composition. Several relict tree genera such as Cedrus, Tsuga, Carya, and Pterocarya played an important role in ecological succession cycles, while total relict abundance accounts for up to half of the total arboreal vegetation. The most prominent biome during interglacials is cool mixed evergreen needleleaf and deciduous broadleaf forests, while cool evergreen needleleaf forests dominate within glacials. A rather forested landscape with a remarkable plant diversity provide unique insights into Early Pleistocene ecosystem resilience and vegetation dynamics.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2019.106044
ISSN: 02773791
Date made live: 26 Nov 2019 13:54 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/526047

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