Substantial light woodland and open vegetation characterized the temperate forest biome before .

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Pearce, Elena A; Mazier, Florence; Normand, Signe; Fyfe, Ralph; Andrieu, Valérie; Bakels, Corrie; Balwierz, Zofia; Bińka, Krzysztof; Boreham, Steve; Borisova, Olga K; Brostrom, Anna; de Beaulieu, Jacques-Louis; Gao, Cunhai; González-Sampériz, Penélope; Granoszewski, Wojciech; Hrynowiecka, Anna; Kołaczek, Piotr; Kuneš, Petr; Magri, Donatella; Malkiewicz, Małgorzata; Mighall, Tim; Milner, Alice M; Möller, Per; Nita, Małgorzata; Noryśkiewicz, Bożena; Pidek, Irena Agnieszka; Reille, Maurice; Robertsson, Ann-Marie; Salonen, J Sakari; Schläfli, Patrick; Schokker, Jeroen; Scussolini, Paolo; Šeirienė, Vaida; Strahl, Jaqueline; Urban, Brigitte; Winter, Hanna; Svenning, Jens-Christian
Year of Publication: 2023
Journal: Sci Adv
Volume: 9
Issue: 45
Pagination: eadi9135
Date Published: 2023 Nov 10
Publication Language: eng
ISSN: 2375-2548
Keywords: Biodiversity, Ecosystem, Forests, Humans, Pollen, Trees, Wood

The extent of vegetation openness in past European landscapes is widely debated. In particular, the temperate forest biome has traditionally been defined as dense, closed-canopy forest; however, some argue that large herbivores maintained greater openness or even wood-pasture conditions. Here, we address this question for the Last Interglacial period (129,000-116,000 years ago), before -linked megafauna declines and anthropogenic landscape transformation. We applied the vegetation reconstruction method REVEALS to 96 Last Interglacial pollen records. We found that light woodland and open vegetation represented, on average, more than 50% cover during this period. The degree of openness was highly variable and only partially linked to climatic factors, indicating the importance of natural disturbance regimes. Our results show that the temperate forest biome was historically heterogeneous rather than uniformly dense, which is consistent with the dependency of much of contemporary European biodiversity on open vegetation and light woodland.

DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.adi9135
Alternate Journal: Sci Adv