Climate Change, Fire and Human Activity Drive Vegetation Change during the Last Eight Millennia in the Xistral Mountains of NW Iberia

Timothy Mighall* (Corresponding Author), Antonio Martínez Cortizas, Noemí Silva Sánchez, Olalla López Costas, Lourdes Lopez Merino

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
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An 8500-year record of high-resolution pollen, non-pollen palynomorph, microscopic charcoal and selected geochemical data (Ti, Zr and Pb) is presented from an ombrotrophic mire from the Xistral Mountains, Galicia, North-West Iberia. The results suggest that vegetation changes over the last eight millennia are primarily the result of human disturbance, fire and climate change. Cli-mate and fire were the main factors influencing vegetation development during the early to mid-Holocene, including a short-lived decline in forest cover c. 8.2 cal. ka BP. Changes associated with the 4.2 and 2.8 cal. Ka BP events are less well defined. Human impact on vegetation became more pronounced by the late Holocene with major periods of forest disturbance from c. 3.1 cal. ka BP onwards: during the end of Metal Ages, Roman period and culminating in the permanent de-cline of deciduous forests in the post-Roman period, as agriculture and metallurgy intensified, leading to the creation of a cultural landscape. Climate change appears to become less influential as human activity dominates during the Late Holocene.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5
Number of pages31
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

OLC is funded by a Ramón y Cajal senior fellowship (RYC2020-030531-I) and the project “Pollutio” Plan Nacional (PID2019-111683RJ-I00) Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovacion. OLC and AMC are funded by “Grupos de Referencia Competitiva” (ED431C 2021/32) by Xunta de Galicia. Noemí Silva Sánchez is funded by a Juan de la Cierva-Formación Grant from the Spanish Government (ref: FJC2018-036266-I). LMM is supported by the Programa de Atracciόn de Talento modalidad 1 (2019-T1/AMB-12782; ECOSINK project) funded by the Comunidad de Madrid. LMM, TMM, AMC are funded by the project PALAEOFUN from the Plan Estatal (PID2020-115580RB-100), Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovaciόn

Data Availability Statement

Data can be obtained by contacting the lead author.


  • ombrotrophic mire
  • climate change
  • human impact
  • pollen
  • non-pollen palynomorphs
  • geochemistry
  • Holocene
  • NW Iberia


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