How degraded are the peatland and forest ecosystems in the Bieszczady Mountains (Central Europe)? An assessment using long-term records

Gałka, M.; Loisel, J.; Knorr, K.; Diaconu, A.; Obremska, M.; Teickner, H.; Feurdean, A.

Forschungsartikel (Zeitschrift)


Abstract Peatland and forest ecosystems located in the Bieszczady Mts. (Carpathians, Central Europe) have been affected by human activity since the Neolithic, with this impact intensifying over time. We conducted long-term studies to: (i) determine past peatland and forest development and current ecological state; (ii) assess the role of different factors that influenced ecosystem development over the last 3750 years; and (iii) determine natural reference conditions as a basis for the restoration of degraded mountain bogs and forests in the region. High-resolution multi-proxy palaeoecological analyses (plant macrofossils, pollen, testate amoebae, macro and microcharcoal, peat stoichiometry and stable isotopes), supported by radiocarbon dating, were performed on peat cores from an ombrotrophic peatland. Our study revealed that the peatland and forest ecosystems have been impacted by both climate change and human activity (fires, deforestation, and grazing) over the past 3750 years and that massive deforestation took place 400 years ago. Changes in forest composition led to the intensification in erosion between 3700–1500 cal. BP and over the past 350 years. Drainage resulted in hydrological disturbances but did neither stop the peat formation process nor decreased the abundance of species forming the natural peat plant communities indicative of oligotrophic conditions. However, hydrological disturbances shifted peat plant composition to dry-adapted species (e.g. dwarf shrubs, Pinus sylvestris). Average water level depth fluctuated between ca. 10 and 25 cm over the last 3750 years; thus these are conditions that could be considered as hydrological reference for restoration measures. Our approach to identify natural reference conditions may be expanded to peatlands from other temperate mountain ranges.

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Veröffentlichungsjahr: 2023
Sprache, in der die Publikation verfasst istEnglisch