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Vegetation history and lake-level changes from the Younger Dryas to the present in Eastern Pyrenees (France): pollen, plant macrofossils and lithostratigraphy from Lake Racou (2000 m a.s.l.)

Publication Date
  • Holocene
  • Human Impact
  • Lateglacial
  • Pollen Analysis
  • Lake-Level Changes
  • Pyrenees
  • Earth And Environmental Sciences
  • Earth Science
  • Ecology


A multi-proxy palaeoecological investigation including pollen, plant macrofossil, radiocarbon and sedimentological analyses, was performed on a small mountain lake in the Eastern Pyrenees. This has allowed the reconstruction of: ( 1) the vegetation history of the area based on five pollen diagrams and eight AMS(14)C dates and ( 2) the past lake-level changes, based on plant macrofossil, lithological and pollen analysis of two stratigraphical transects correlated by pollen analysis. The palaeolake may have appeared before the Younger Dryas; the lake-level was low and the vegetation dominated by cold steppic grasslands. The lake-level rose to its highest level during the Holocene in the Middle Atlantic ( at ca. 5060+/-45 b. p.). Postglacial forests ( Quercetum mixtum and Abieto-Fagetum) developed progressively in the lower part of the valley, while dense Pinus uncinata forests rapidly invaded the surroundings of the mire and remained the dominant local vegetation until present. The observed lowering of the lake levels during the Late Atlantic and the Subboreal ( from 5060 +/- B. P. to 3590+/-40 b. p.) was related to the overgrowth of the mire. The first obvious indications of anthropogenic disturbances of the vegetation are recorded at the Atlantic/Subboreal boundary as a reduction in the forest component, which has accelerated during the last two millennia.

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