Palaeoecological evidence for climatic and human impacts on vegetation in the temperate deciduous forest zone of European Russia during the last 4200 years: A case study from the Kaluzhskiye Zaseki Nature Reserve
Climate change and human activity considerably influenced the temperate European deciduous forests through the Holocene, with the anthropogenic impacts being detected even in currently protected areas. This paper is focused on the area of the Kaluzhskiye Zaseki Nature Reserve, which contains remnants of primary broadleaved forests in central European Russia. Here, we present a new multi-proxy record including pollen, plant macrofossils, charcoal, loss on ignition and radiocarbon dating from the Mochulya peatland supplemented by 14 radiocarbon dates of charcoal fragments from soil pits in the study area. The results show that Mochulya peatland was a fen throughout the most of the time it existed. During the last 4200 cal yr BP the study area was occupied by broadleaved forests of Quercus, Ulmus, and Tilia. Picea became relatively abundant after 2300 cal yr BP. Despite the long-term human impact, vegetation fragments of these forests have persisted in the area until the present. Three main periods of deforestation and frequent fires were identified: 3700–3200 cal yr BP, 2000–1600 cal yr BP (the Early Iron Age) and 1000–400 cal yr BP (the Medieval Period). Whereas human-induced vegetation changes were apparent during the last two periods, vegetation dynamics during 3700–3200 cal yr BP were likely caused, at least in part, by climatic factors.