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      Europe’s lost forests: a pollen-based synthesis for the last 11,000 years

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          Abstract

          8000 years ago, prior to Neolithic agriculture, Europe was mostly a wooded continent. Since then, its forest cover has been progressively fragmented, so that today it covers less than half of Europe’s land area, in many cases having been cleared to make way for fields and pasture-land. Establishing the origin of Europe’s current, more open land-cover mosaic requires a long-term perspective, for which pollen analysis offers a key tool. In this study we utilise and compare three numerical approaches to transforming pollen data into past forest cover, drawing on >1000 14C-dated site records. All reconstructions highlight the different histories of the mixed temperate and the northern boreal forests, with the former declining progressively since ~6000 years ago, linked to forest clearance for agriculture in later prehistory (especially in northwest Europe) and early historic times (e.g. in north central Europe). In contrast, extensive human impact on the needle-leaf forests of northern Europe only becomes detectable in the last two millennia and has left a larger area of forest in place. Forest loss has been a dominant feature of Europe’s landscape ecology in the second half of the current interglacial, with consequences for carbon cycling, ecosystem functioning and biodiversity.

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          The prehistoric and preindustrial deforestation of Europe

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            On the theory of pollen analysis

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              Holocene changes in atmospheric circulation recorded in the oxygen-isotope stratigraphy of lacustrine carbonates from northern Sweden

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                C.N.Roberts@plymouth.ac.uk
                Journal
                Sci Rep
                Sci Rep
                Scientific Reports
                Nature Publishing Group UK (London )
                2045-2322
                15 January 2018
                15 January 2018
                2018
                : 8
                Affiliations
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2219 0747, GRID grid.11201.33, School of Geography, , Earth and Environmental Sciences, Plymouth University, Drake Circus, ; Plymouth, UK
                [2 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2174 3522, GRID grid.8148.5, Department of Biology and Environmental Science, , Linnaeus University, ; Barlastgatan 11, Kalmar, Sweden
                [3 ]ISNI 0000 0004 4914 1197, GRID grid.469873.7, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, ; Jena, Germany
                [4 ]ISNI 0000 0001 0930 2361, GRID grid.4514.4, Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science, , Lund University, Sölvegatan, ; Lund, Sweden
                [5 ]Bureau Research House of Jean Jaurès University, 5, Allées A. Machado, Toulouse, C229 France
                [6 ]ISNI 0000 0000 9774 6466, GRID grid.8207.d, Institute of Ecology, , Tallinn University, ; Narva mnt 25, Tallinn, Estonia
                [7 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2176 4817, GRID grid.5399.6, Institut Méditerranéen de Biodiversité et d’Ecologie marine et continentale, , Aix-Marseille Université, ; Marseille, France
                [8 ]ARVE Research SARL, Pully, Switzerland
                [9 ]Institute of Earth Surface Dynamics, University of Lausanne, Geopolis Building, Lausanne, Switzerland
                Article
                18646
                10.1038/s41598-017-18646-7
                5768782
                29335417
                © The Author(s) 2017

                Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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