Based on palaeoecological studies by many authors, this book gives an overview of the changing history of the European plant cover during the past 2.6 million years, characterized by numerous cold and warm periods. The period of the last 20,000 years (from the Last Glacial Maximum to the present) is presented in detail, with special emphasis on the vegetation dynamics of Europe, the history of selected woody plants, the development of lakes and bogs and the emergence of European cultural landscapes under the influence of humans over thousands of years. In the analysis of the glacial and interglacial periods, the focus is on the different vegetation developments and the progressive impoverishment of the European flora. Further important topics are the spatiotemporal patterns and causes of long-term vegetation changes, the legacies of disturbances and land use on vegetation composition, the role of palaeoecology in nature conservation and its contribution to ecology and environmental sciences. In addition to recent research results, the book provides an overview of the main palaeoecological research methods. It concludes with a summary of the history of palaeoecology and Quaternary botany.
For the first time, a detailed synthesis is presented of the many findings on European vegetation dynamics, which are complex and increasingly difficult to summarize. Numerous figures and tables, many of them original, accompany the text. The bibliography includes over 3000 publications. This book is primarily intended for students, researchers and practitioners in plant ecology, palaeoecology, palaeoclimatology, forestry, agronomy, Quaternary sciences, climate sciences, biogeography, geography and archaeology.
Gerhard Lang was a Professor of Geobotany at the University of Bern. He studied biology, chemistry and physics at the University of Freiburg in Breisgau. After his PhD in biology with Franz Firbas at the University of Göttingen, co-supervised by Harry Godwin at the University of Cambridge, he was curator at the Museum of Natural History in Karlsruhe and Adjunct Professor at the University of Karlsruhe. He applied plant sociological relevés and sedimentary pollen and macrofossil analyses to investigate biotic and non-biotic controls of vegetation change in space and time. He was particularly interested in the long-term responses of vegetation to climate change. He died on June 19th, 2016.
Brigitta Ammann was a Professor of Palaeoecology at the University of Bern. She studied botany and zoology at the Universities of Bern and Bergen. After her PhD at the University of Bern with Max Welten and a postdoctoral position at the Duke University in Durham, North Carolina she became associated with the research group of Gerhard Lang. Her main interests are interdisciplinary approaches, for example, studying biotic responses to climate change based on records of stable isotopes and biological remains.
Karl-Ernst Behre was head of the Lower Saxony Institute for Historical Coastal Research in Wilhelmshaven/Germany. He studied biology, geography and chemistry at the Universities of Marburg, Innsbruck and Göttingen. He joined the Lower Saxony Institute after his PhD in botany with Franz Firbas and Heinz Ellenberg and also held part-time professorships in Göttingen and, later, Amsterdam. His main field of research is vegetation history (pollen, macro-remains and charcoal) during the Pleistocene and the Holocene with special attention to human impact, and also coastal research.
Willy Tinner is a Professor of Palaeoecology at the University of Bern. He studied geography, botany, geology and archaeology at the same university. After his PhD in biology with Brigitta Ammann and Marco Conedera, also at the University of Bern, he had a postdoctoral position at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, was a lecturer at the University of Bern and later an SNF-professor at ETH Zurich. He uses Quaternary sedimentary sequences (pollen, spores, macrofossils and charcoal) and modelling approaches to study the long-term interactions between climate, the biosphere and society.