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Vegetation, climate and environmental history of the last 4500 years at lake Shkodra (Albania/Montenegro)

Sadori, Laura, Giardini, Marco, Gliozzi, Elsa, Mazzini, Ilaria, Sulpizio, Roberto, van Welden, Aurelien, Zanchetta, Giovanni
Castanea, anthropogenic activities, climate, climate change, dry environmental conditions, humidity, lakes, land use, palynology, plants (botany), pollen, pollen rain, radiocarbon dating, tephra, vegetation, volcanoes, walnuts, Albania, Montenegro
Three parallel overlapping cores have been taken in the Albanian side of Lake Shkodra (Albania/Montenegro). The chronological frame of the record, spanning approximately the last 4500 years, has been assessed using four radiocarbon dates and four well-known tephra layers of Italian volcanoes. Multidisciplinary analyses turned out to be decisive to understand environmental, climatic changes and human impact. Here, we focus on palynology. The humidity at Shkodra was always enough to allow the developing of a luxuriant arboreal vegetation. The pollen percentage diagram does not record important changes in terrestrial plants percentages. Arboreal pollen (AP) shows only a rather slight decrease, with ‘natural forests’ replaced by intensive cultivation of chestnut and walnut in the last seven/eight centuries. The rather minimal changes in composition and dominance are because of the fact that the pollen rain comes from different vegetation belts, from the Mediterranean to the alpine one. Two major periods of humidity are found, one at the base of the pollen concentration and influx diagram, before 4100 yr BP, the other at 1300 yr BP. Minima in pollen influx and concentration occurred soon before 4000, at ca. 2900 and at ca. 1450 yr BP These minima, interpreted as aridity crises, show a temporal coincidence with the so-called Bond events 1-3 already found in other central and eastern Mediterranean records. The minimum in AP occurring after 500 yr BP could represent the record of the ‘Little Ice Age’, even if it could be the effect of a strong land use.