Publication details

Prehistoric origin of extremely species-rich semi-dry grasslands in the Bílé Karpaty Mts.

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Year of publication 2011
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Preslia
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Field Botany
Keywords Czech Republic; disjunct distribution; environmental history; Holocene; macrofossils; molluscs; palaeoecology; pollen; relict species; semi-dry grasslands; Slovakia; species richness
Description Bílé Karpaty Mts harbour some of the most species-rich managed grasslands in Europe, which contain a number of rare and disjunctly distributed species. Besides specific local environmental factors, the long Holocene history may explain the uniqueness of these grasslands. However, historical interpretations of the palaeoecological evidence from the region are far from unequivocal. While palaeomalacological data indicate persistence of open habitats throughout the entire Holocene, fragmentary pollen data support the hypothesis of a medieval origin of the grasslands. This paper reviews the available phytogeographical, archaeological and palaeoecological knowledge that provides indirect evidence for a prehistoric origin of the grasslands in the Bílé Karpaty Mts. High concentration of rare heliophilous species with a disjunct distribution in the south-western part of the Bílé Karpaty Mts suggest their long-term persistence. The archaeological findings provide evidence for the existence of prehistoric human settlement in this region since the Neolithic (Middle Holocene). Direct evidence for the existence of open human-influenced habitats before medieval times, based on the results of a multi-proxy analysis (macrofossils, molluscs and pollen) of an organic sediment dated back to Roman Age, is also provided. The results indicate the existence of an ancient cultural landscape with a mosaic of open grasslands, natural forests and fields. It is concluded that the evidence presented in this paper supports the hypothesis of prehistoric, rather than a medieval origin of the species-rich grasslands in the Bílé Karpaty Mts.
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