First pollen record from the Late Holocene forest environment in the Lesser Caucasus

S. Joannin*, A. Capit, V. Ollivier, O. Bellier, B. Brossier, B. Mourier, P. Tozalakian, C. Colombié, M. Yevadian, A. Karakhanyan, B. Gasparyan, A. Malinsky-Buller, C. Chataigner, B. Perello

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Pollen-based vegetation change has been inferred from sediments in Kalavan Red Lake. This small lake is placed in the beech-oak-hornbeam forest, about three kilometres away from the village of Kalavan (Gegharkunik Province of the Republic of Armenia) which is rich with archaeological sites spread in the Barepat River valley spanning from the Palaeolithic period onwards. It has the potential to document the Holocene forest history and climate and human impacts on the Lesser Caucasus. However, this lake happens to be formed by a large landslide. Pollen and XRF analysis are provided over the last 3800 years. The basal age of the Kalavan sediment approximates the landslide age. This created a not vegetated slope including the lake catchment. Erosion and sedimentation processes brought coarse and heavy minerogenic elements, declining with the catchment revegetation by tall-grassland. This shift in the sedimentation continues, suggesting less erosion in the catchment when an admixture of Quercus and grasslands settled. Starting from 2000 cal. BP, arboreal pollen increases successively thanks to the step afforestation of Quercus, Carpinus orientalis and Fagus. The comparison with available pollen reconstruction illustrates the uniqueness of the vegetation dynamic recorded at Kalavan. However, the duration of this succession is also questionable. An intermediate hypothesis is proposed: the Kalavan's dynamic is first initiated by the landslide with the tall-grass development, then paced by the regional vegetation dynamic. Linking vegetation history and erosion with regional climate and archaeological data helps to evidence short-term climate change and human impact. Antique arid phase (2000–1600 cal. BP), the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age affect the vegetation, while demography variations during the Medieval period and Modern Age are shown by habitation and pastoral activity.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number104713
JournalReview of Palaeobotany and Palynology
Volume304
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Financial support for this study was provided by the French–Armenian International Associated Laboratory HEMHA “Humans and Environments in Mountainous Habitats, the case of Armenia” supervised by C. Chataigner and P. Avetisyan. This programme between Armenia and France was founded by the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). This work is part of both GéoArcC (FR. ECCOREV) project (PIs V. Ollivier and O. Bellier) and the GeoArT project (PIs O. Bellier and V. Ollivier), Labex OT-Med ( ANR–11–LABE–0061 ), supported by the Investissements d'Avenir , French Government project of the French National Research Agency (ANR) through the A*Midex project (ANR–1—IE–0001–02).

Funding Information:
GeoArT project (PIs O. Bellier and V. Ollivier), Labex OT-Med (ANR–11–LABE–0061), supported by the Investissements d'Avenir, French Government project of the French National Research Agency (ANR) through the A*Midex project (ANR–1—IE–0001–02).Financial support for this study was provided by the French–Armenian International Associated Laboratory HEMHA “Humans and Environments in Mountainous Habitats, the case of Armenia” supervised by C. Chataigner and P. Avetisyan. This programme between Armenia and France was founded by the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). This work is part of both GéoArcC (FR. ECCOREV) project (PIs V. Ollivier and O. Bellier) and the GeoArT project (PIs O. Bellier and V. Ollivier), Labex OT-Med (ANR–11–LABE–0061), supported by the Investissements d'Avenir, French Government project of the French National Research Agency (ANR) through the A*Midex project (ANR–1—IE–0001–02). We thank L. Millet and D. Rius (Univ. Franche-Comté) for chironomid investigation (which revealed only few specimens) and for the age model, respectively. At ISEM (University of Montpellier), we are grateful to S. Canal for her help in the pollen Laboratory, I. Figueral for wood remains identification, and S. Muller for lending us the Russian corer. This is ISEM contribution No ISEM 2022-136.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier B.V.

Keywords

  • Climate and Human impacts
  • Landslide
  • Late Holocene
  • Pollen
  • Sediment composition
  • Vegetation dynamics

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