Holocene peatland development and hydrological variability inferred from bog-pine dendrochronology and peat stratigraphy – a case study from southern Sweden

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Abstract

Dendrochronological analysis was applied to subfossil remains of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) buried in a South Swedish peat deposit. In combination with peat stratigraphy, this approach was explored for its potential to provide information on the local hydrological and depositional history at the site, forming the basis for a regional palaeohydrological analysis. A 726-year ring-width chronology was developed and assigned an absolute age of 7233–6508 cal a BP (5284–4559 BC) through cross-dating with German bog-pine chronologies, whereas two short additional records of older ages were radiocarbon dated. Registration of growth positions of individual trees allowed assessment of the spatial dynamics of the pine population in response to hydrological changes and peatland ontogeny. Annually resolved growth variability patterns in the pine population reveal several establishment and degeneration phases, probably reflecting fluctuations in bog-surface wetness. A major establishment phase at 7200–6900 cal a BP reflects the onset of a period of lowered groundwater level, also indicated by increased peat humification, and a development consistent with regional temperature and lake level reconstructions revealed from other proxies. This study demonstrates that subfossil bog-pine populations may provide annually to decadally resolved reconstructions of local groundwater variability, which are highly relevant in a long-term palaeoclimatic context. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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