Abrupt Alnus population decline at the end of the first millennium CE in Europe - the event ecology, possible causes and implications

Małgorzata Latałowa , Joanna Święta-Musznicka , Michał Słowiński , Anna Pędziszewska , Agnieszka M. Noryśkiewicz , Marcelina Zimny , Milena Obremska , Florian Ott , Normunds Stivrins , Leena Pasanen , Liisa Ilvonen , Lasse Holmström , Heikki Seppä


The study, based on the examination of 70 published and unpublished pollen profiles from Poland and supplementary data from the surrounding regions, shows that an abrupt, episodic Alnus population decline at the end of the first millennium CE was a much more widespread event than has been previously reported, spanning large areas of the temperate and boreal zones in Europe. The data from Poland suggest that the decline was roughly synchronous and most likely occurred between the 9th and 10th centuries, with strong indications for the 10th century. The pollen data indicate that human impacts were not a major factor in the event. Instead, we hypothesize that one or a series of abrupt climatic shifts that caused floods and droughts at the end of the first millennium CE could have initiated this ecological disturbance, leading to a higher vulnerability of the alder trees to a pathogen outbreak. Following current observations of the decline of alder stands in Europe due to a Phytophthora outbreak, we suggest that a similar process may have occurred in the past. This study provides insight into long-term alder (mainly Alnus glutinosa) dynamics in a condition of climate change and illustrates its great resilience, enabling the natural, successful regeneration of alder stands after critical diebacks if environmental conditions improve. Our finding that the Alnus pollen decline reflects a roughly synchronous event indicates that the decline could be used as an over-regional chronostratigraphic marker for 800–1000 CE in pollen diagrams from a large part of the European Lowland.
Publication typeIn press (online first, early view)
Author Małgorzata Latałowa (FB / DPE)
Małgorzata Latałowa,,
- Department of Plant Ecolog
, Joanna Święta-Musznicka (FB / DPE)
Joanna Święta-Musznicka,,
- Department of Plant Ecolog
, Michał Słowiński
Michał Słowiński,,
, Anna Pędziszewska (FB / DPE)
Anna Pędziszewska,,
- Department of Plant Ecolog
, Agnieszka M. Noryśkiewicz
Agnieszka M. Noryśkiewicz,,
, Marcelina Zimny (FB / DPE)
Marcelina Zimny,,
- Department of Plant Ecolog
, Milena Obremska
Milena Obremska,,
, Florian Ott
Florian Ott,,
, Normunds Stivrins
Normunds Stivrins,,
, Leena Pasanen
Leena Pasanen,,
et al.`
Journal seriesHolocene, ISSN 0959-6836, (A 35 pkt)
Issue year2019
Noonline first
Publication size in sheets0.3
Keywords in EnglishAlnus long-term population dynamics, climate change, ecological disturbance, palaeoecology, pathogen outbreak, Phytophthora
ASJC Classification1911 Palaeontology; 1904 Earth-Surface Processes; 2303 Ecology; 1204 Archaeology; 2306 Global and Planetary Change
Languageen angielski
Score (nominal)35
ScoreMinisterial score = 35.0, 24-07-2019, ArticleFromJournal
Publication indicators Scopus SNIP (Source Normalised Impact per Paper): 2016 = 0.786; WoS Impact Factor: 2017 = 2.419 (2) - 2017=2.668 (5)
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* presented citation count is obtained through Internet information analysis and it is close to the number calculated by the Publish or Perish system.