Aim To identify and interpret spatial patterns of vegetation and sedimentation during the Weichselian Late-glacial.
Location North-eastern Germany and the adjacent fringe of north-western Poland.
Methods An inspection and comparison of palynological data from c. 150 sites.
Results Open Vegetation phase I (Oldest Dryas = earlier part of the Meiendorf, 12,900–12,450 14C bp) and the Hippophaë phase (Bølling = later part of the Meiendorf; 12,450–12,000 bp) were rather homogeneous palynologically in the study area. Open Vegetation phase II (Older Dryas; 12,000–11,900 bp) is strongly recorded in the northern part of the study area with relatively thick sediments (suggesting severe soil erosion), but it can hardly be traced 200 km further to the south. This is attributed to sea buckthorn (Hippophaë) shrubs persisting longer in the south due to higher temperatures, to Betula forests expanding earlier under the influence of a more humid climate or to a generally denser vegetation independent of the behaviour of Hippophaë and Betula. During the late-glacial Betula/Pinus forest phase (Allerød; 11,900–11,000 bp), pine (Pinus) forests dominated in the southern regions, whereas birch (Betula) forests prevailed in the north. Open Vegetation phase III (Younger Dryas; 11,000–10,000 bp) was characterized by heathlands in the northern regions with scattered birches and with sedimentation dominated by in-washed silicates. In the south, pine parklands occurred with sedimentation dominated by local primary production which had markedly decreased after the previous warmer vegetation phase.
Main conclusions The differences in vegetation and sedimentation during the open vegetation phases are attributed to a colder climate in the north than in the south, probably related to a climatic gradient between the ice-free continental central Europe and the decaying Scandinavian ice sheet. The vegetation patterns during the late-glacial Betula/Pinus forest phase are attributed to edaphic differences between the predominantly till plains in the northern part of the study area and the prevailing sandy outwash plains and Urstromtäler of the southern regions.