Separating climatic and possible human impacts in the early Holocene: biotic response around the time of the 8200 cal. yr BP event

Edwards, K.J., Langdon, P.G. and Sugden, H. (2007) Separating climatic and possible human impacts in the early Holocene: biotic response around the time of the 8200 cal. yr BP event Journal of Quaternary Science, 22, (1), pp. 77-84. (doi:10.1002/jqs.1018).


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The early Holocene is characterised by rapid climate change events, which in the North Atlantic region are often associated with changes in thermohaline circulation. Superimposed on this in northwest Europe is localised evidence for human impact on the landscape, although separating climatic and anthropogenic mechanisms for environmental change is often difficult. Biotic and sedimentological evidence from a lacustrine sequence from the Inner Hebrides, Scotland, shows a considerable reduction in inferred local woodland centred upon 8250 cal. yr BP. These data correlate precisely with a distinctive rise in the charcoal:pollen ratio and hence suggest a possible Mesolithic human impact upon the vegetation around this time. A quantitative temperature reconstruction from chironomid analyses from the same sequence, supported by sedimentological data, indicates that the fall in arboreal pollen taxa occurred as climate warmed significantly during the early Holocene. This warming was followed by a significant cold event, with mean July temperatures reduced by 2C, that lasted for at least 320 years ca. 7790–7470 cal. yr BP. Woodland recovered during this phase suggesting that the vegetation during the 8250 cal. yr BP interval was likely to have been responding to human activity, and not climate, and hence it is possible at specific sites to separate the influence of these key drivers of environmental change. Copyright 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1002/jqs.1018
Additional Information: Addresses key internationally recognised debates of early Holocene climate change and the 8.2 ka event. The new data raises important questions regarding our interpretation of palaeoclimate proxy data around this time period and this paper should be well cited. Provided the proxy climate data and co-wrote the whole paper.
ISSNs: 0267-8179 (print)
Related URLs:
Keywords: 8200 cal. yr BP climate event, Scotland, pollen analysis, chironomids, Mesolithic.
ePrint ID: 43537
Date :
Date Event
6 February 2006Submitted
24 May 2007Published
Date Deposited: 23 Jan 2007
Last Modified: 16 Apr 2017 18:48
Further Information:Google Scholar

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