Peñuelas, J., Sardans, J., Filella, I., Estiarte, M., Llusià, J., Ogaya, R., Carnicer, J., Bartrons, M., Rivas-Ubach, A., Grau, O., Peguero, G., Margalef, O., Pla-Rabés, S., Stefanescu, C., Asensio, D., Preece, C., Liu, L., Verger, A., Barbeta, A., Achotegui-Castells, A., Gargallo-Garriga, A., Sperlich, D., Farré-Armengol, G., Fernández-Martínez, M., Liu, D., Zhang, C., Urbina, I., Camino-Serrano, M., Vives-Ingla, M., Stocker, B.D., Balzarolo, M., Guerrieri, R., Peaucelle, M., Marañón-Jiménez, S., Bórnez-Mejías, K., Mu, Z., Descals, A., Castellanos, A., Terradas, J. (2017) Impacts of global change on Mediterranean forests and their services. Forests. 8: 0-0.LinkDoi: 10.3390/f8120463
Cañellas-Boltà N., Rull V., Sáez A., Margalef O., Pla-Rabes S., Valero-Garcés B., Giralt S. (2016) Vegetation dynamics at Raraku Lake catchment (Easter Island) during the past 34,000years. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 446: 55-69.LinkDoi: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.01.019
Easter Island is a paradigmatic example of human impact on ecosystems. The role of climate changes in recent vegetation shifts has commonly been rejected without proper assessment. A palynological study of a long sediment core from Raraku Lake documents the vegetation dynamics for the last 34 ka and investigates their driving forces, particularly the effects of climate variability on vegetation changes. Significant relationships between pollen assemblage changes and sedimentary and geochemical proxies demonstrate the rapid response of vegetation to lake crater basin hydrology and climatic changes. The lake surroundings were occupied by an open mixed palm grove during the Last Glacial period. Poaceae and Sophora increased at the expense of palms and Triumfetta, and Coprosma practically disappeared, in response to slightly wetter and/or colder climate during the Last Glacial Maximum. Palms and Triumfetta thrived in a warmer and/or drier climate during the deglaciation. Minor vegetation changes (a slight increase in Sophora and a drop in Asteraceae and Poaceae) occurred between 13.2 and 11.8 cal. ka BP and can be related to rapid changes in the Younger Dryas chronozone. The increase in herbaceous taxa indicates a gradual shallowing of the lake and development of a mire during the Holocene, caused by sediment infilling and warmer and drier climate. Relatively rapid vegetation changes in the Holocene were caused by climate and by plant succession on the expanding mire. The rates of vegetation change observed in the mire were similar to those at the initial stages of human impact identified in a previous study. These results reveal significant vegetation changes prior to human presence, due to the interplay of climate variations (temperature and moisture), changes in lake basin form by infilling and intrinsic dynamics of plant succession. Hence, the potential contribution of these factors in vegetation shifts during the period of human presence should not be neglected. © 2016 Elsevier B.V.
Peñuelas, J., Sardans, J., Filella, I., Estiarte, M., Llusià, J., Ogaya, R., Carnicer, J., Bartrons, M., Rivas-Ubach, A., Grau, O., Peguero, G., Margalef, O., Pla-Rabés, S., Stefanescu, C., Asensio, D., Preece, C., Liu, L., Verger, A., Rico, L., Barbeta, A., Achotegui-Castells, A., Gargallo-Garriga, A., Sperlich, D., Farré-Armengol, G., Fernández-Martínez, M., Liu, D., Zhang, C., Urbina, I., Camino, M., Vives, M., Nadal-Sala, D., Sabaté, S., Gracia, C., Terradas, J. (2016) Assessment of the impacts of climate change on Mediterranean terrestrial ecosystems based on data from field experiments and long-term monitored field gradients in Catalonia. Environmental and Experimental Botany. : 0-0.LinkDoi: 10.1016/j.envexpbot.2017.05.012
Rull V., Canellas-Bolta N., Margalef O., Saez A., Pla-Rabes S., Giralt S. (2015) Late Holocene vegetation dynamics and deforestation in Rano Aroi: Implications for Easter Island's ecological and cultural history. Quaternary Science Reviews. 126: 219-226.LinkDoi: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.09.008
Easter Island (Rapa Nui) has been considered an example of how societies can cause their own destruction through the overexploitation of natural resources. The flagship of this ecocidal paradigm is the supposed abrupt, island-wide deforestation that occurred about one millennium ago, a few centuries after the arrival of Polynesian settlers to the island. Other hypotheses attribute the forest demise to different causes such as fruit consumption by rats or aridity but the occurrence of an abrupt, island-wide deforestation during the last millennium has become paradigmatic in Rapa Nui. We argue that such a view can be questioned, as it is based on the palynological study of incomplete records, owing to the existence of major sedimentary gaps. Here, we present a multiproxy (pollen, charcoal and geochemistry) study of the Aroi core, the first gap-free sedimentary sequence of the last millennia obtained to date in the island. Our results show changing vegetation patterns under the action of either climatic or anthropogenic drivers, or both, depending on the time interval considered. Palm forests were present in Aroi until the 16th century, when deforestation started, coinciding with fire exacerbation -likely of human origin- and a dry climate. This is the latest deforestation event recorded so far in the island and took place roughly a century before European contact. In comparison to other Easter Island records, this record shows that deforestation was neither simultaneous nor proceeded at the same pace over the whole island. These findings suggest that Easter Island's deforestation was a heterogeneous process in space and time, and highlights the relevance of local catchment traits in the island's environmental and land management history. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.
Margalef O., Martinez Cortizas A., Kylander M., Pla-Rabes S., Canellas-Bolta N., Pueyo J.J., Saez A., Valero-Garces B.L., Giralt S. (2014) Environmental processes in Rano Aroi (Easter Island) peat geochemistry forced by climate variability during the last 70kyr. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 414: 438-450.LinkDoi: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2014.09.025
We analyze the geochemistry of Rano Aroi mire record (Easter Island) using bulk peat composition (C, N, S) and stable isotopes (δ13C, δ15N, δ34S) and major, minor and trace elemental compositions obtained by ICP-AES (Al, Ti, Zr, Sc, V, Y, Fe, Mn, Th, Ba, Ca, Mg and Sr). Peat geochemistry and the pollen record are used to reconstruct the environmental changes during the last 70kyr BP. Principal component analysis on ICP-AES data revealed that three main components account for the chemical signatures of the peat. The first component, characterized by lithogenic elements (combined signal of V, Al, Sc, Y, Cr, Cd, Ti, Zr and Cu), evidences long-term changes in the basal fluxes of mineral material into the mire. This component, in combination with stable isotopes and pollen data suggests a link between soil erosion and vegetation cover changes in the Rano Aroi watershed. The second component is identified by the signal of Fe, Mn, Th, Ba, Zr and Ti, and is indicative of strong runoff events during enhanced precipitation periods. The third component (tied mainly to Ca, Sr and Mg) reflects a strong peat oxidation event that occurred during an arid period with more frequent droughts, sometime between 39 and 31kyr BP. Correlation coefficients and a multiple regression model (PCR analysis) between peat organic chemistry and the principal components of ICP-AES analysis were calculated. Isotope chemistry of the peat organic matter further contributes to define Rano Aroi environmental history: δ13C data corroborates a vegetation shift documented by the palynological record from C4 to C3 between 55 and 45calkyr BP; the δ15N record identifies periods of changes in mire productivity and denitrification processes, while the δ34S peat signature indicates a marine origin of S and significant diagenetic cycling. The geochemical and environmental evolution of Rano Aroi mire is coherent with the regional climatic variability and suggests that climate was the main forcing in mire evolution during the last 70kyr BP. The coupling of geochemical and biological proxies improves our ability to decipher depositional processes in tropical and subtropical peatlands and to use these sequences for paleoenvironmental and paleoclimate reconstructions.
Canellas-Bolta N., Rull V., Saez A., Margalef O., Bao R., Pla-Rabes S., Blaauw M., Valero-Garces B., Giralt S. (2013) Vegetation changes and human settlement of Easter Island during the last millennia: A multiproxy study of the Lake Raraku sediments. Quaternary Science Reviews. 72: 36-48.LinkDoi: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2013.04.004
Earlier palynological studies of lake sediments from Easter Island suggest that the island underwent a recent and abrupt replacement of palm-dominated forests by grasslands, interpreted as a deforestation by indigenous people. However, the available evidence is inconclusive due to the existence of extended hiatuses and ambiguous chronological frameworks in most of the sedimentary sequences studied. This has given rise to an ongoing debate about the timing and causes of the assumed ecological degradation and cultural breakdown. Our multiproxy study of a core recovered from Lake Raraku highlights the vegetation dynamics and environmental shifts in the catchment and its surroundings during the late Holocene. The sequence contains shorter hiatuses than in previously recovered cores and provides a more continuous history of environmental changes. The results show a long, gradual and stepped landscape shift from palm-dominated forests to grasslands. This change started c. 450 BC and lasted about two thousand years. The presence of Verbena litoralis, a common weed, which is associated with human activities in the pollen record, the significant correlation between shifts in charcoal influx, and the dominant pollen types suggest human disturbance of the vegetation. Therefore, human settlement on the island occurred c. 450 BC, some 1500 years earlier than is assumed. Climate variability also exerted a major influence on environmental changes. Two sedimentary gaps in the record are interpreted as periods of droughts that could have prevented peat growth and favoured its erosion during the Medieval Climate Anomaly and the Little Ice Age, respectively. At c. AD 1200, the water table rose and the former Raraku mire turned into a shallow lake, suggesting higher precipitation/evaporation rates coeval with a cooler and wetter Pan-Pacific AD 1300 event. Pollen and diatom records show large vegetation changes due to human activities c. AD 1200. Other recent vegetation changes also due to human activities entail the introduction of taxa (e.g. Psidium guajava, Eucalyptus sp.) and the disappearance of indigenous plants such as Sophora toromiro during the two last centuries. Although the evidence is not conclusive, the American origin of V. litoralis re-opens the debate about the possible role of Amerindians in the human colonisation of Easter Island. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
Margalef O., Canellas-Bolta N., Pla-Rabes S., Giralt S., Pueyo J.J., Joosten H., Rull V., Buchaca T., Hernandez A., Valero-Garces B.L., Moreno A., Saez A. (2013) A 70,000 year multiproxy record of climatic and environmental change from Rano Aroi peatland (Easter Island). Global and Planetary Change. 108: 72-84.LinkDoi: 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2013.05.016
The Rano Aroi mire on Easter Island (also known as Rapa Nui; 27°09'S, 109°27'W, 430m above sea level) provides a unique non-marine record in the central South Pacific Ocean for reconstructing Late Pleistocene environmental changes. The results of a multiproxy study on two cores from the center and margin of the Rano Aroi mire, including peat stratigraphy, facies analysis, elemental and isotope geochemistry on bulk organic matter, X-ray fluorescence (XRF) core scanning and macrofossil analysis, were used to infer past water levels and vegetation changes. The chronology was based on 18 14C AMS dates for the upper 8.7m. The extrapolated age for the base of the sequence is 70kyr, which implies that this record is the oldest paleolimnological record on Easter Island. The recovered Rano Aroi sequence consists of a radicel peat formed primarily from the remains of sedges, grasses and Polygonaceae that have accumulated since Marine Isotopic Stage (MIS) 4 (70kyr BP) to the present. From 60 to 40kyr BP (MIS 3), high precipitation/runoff events were recorded as organic mud facies with lighter δ13C, low C/N values and high Ti content, indicating higher detritic input to the mire. A gradual shift in δ13C bulk organic matter from -14% to -26%, recorded between 50 and 45calkyr BP, suggests a progressive change in local peat-forming vegetation from C4 to C3 plant types. Post-depositional Ca and Fe enrichment during sub-aerial peat exposure and very low sedimentation rates indicate lower water tables during Late MIS 3 (39-31calkyr BP). During MIS 2 (27.8-19calkyr BP), peat production rates were very low, most likely due to cold temperatures, as reconstructed from other Easter Island records during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). Geochemical and macrofossil evidence shows that peat accumulation reactivates at approximately 17.5calkyr BP, reaching the highest accumulation rates at 14calkyr BP. Peat accretion decreased from 5.0 to 2.5calkyr BP, coinciding with a regional Holocene aridity phase. The main hydrological and environmental changes in Rano Aroi reflect variations in the South Pacific Convergence Zone (SPCZ), Southern Westerlies (SW) storm track, and South Pacific Anticyclone (SPA) locations. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.
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