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The History of Pastoral Activities in S Italy Inferred from Palynology: A Long-Term Perspective to Support Biodiversity Awareness

  • Florenzano, Assunta
Publication Date
Jan 15, 2019
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climate interactions that have driven the ecological dynamics throughout the Holocene. Pastoralism had (and still has) an important role in shaping this landscape, and contributes to maintaining the mosaic patterns of the Mediterranean habitats. Palaeoecological records provide significant multi-proxy data on environmental changes during the Holocene that are linked to human activities. In such research, the palynological approach is especially useful for detailing the complexity of anthropogenically-driven landscape transformations by discriminating past land uses and pastoral/breeding activities. This paper focuses on the palynological evidence for the impact of centuries of grazing on the vegetation of Basilicata, a region of southern Italy where animal breeding and pastoralism have a long tradition. A set of 121 pollen samples from eight archaeological sites (dated from the 6th century BC to the 15th century AD) and five modern surface soil samples were analyzed. The joint record of pollen pasture indicators and spores of coprophilous fungi suggests that continuous and intense pastoral activities have been practiced in the territory and have highly influenced its landscape. The palaeoecological results of this study provide us with better knowledge of the diachronical transformations of the habitats that were exposed to continuous grazing, with a shift toward more open vegetation and increase of sclerophyllous shrubs. The palynological approach gives insights into the vocation and environmental sustainability of this southern Italy region on a long-term basis.

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