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Keywords:

  • Palaeobotany;
  • paludification;
  • pollen analysis;
  • vegetation succession;
  • peat inception;
  • Finland

SUMMARY

Soil profile, macrofossil and pollen analysis investigations were carried out at two sites within paludifying pint forest to determine the vegetation succession and paludification history of the area. Isostatic uplift raised the area above sea level less than 500 y ago. Before the land emerged from the sea, Phragmites and Schoenoplectus beds grew in shallow water close to the shore. As the area emerged, shore meadows dominated by grasses, sedges and forbs became established and were in turn replaced by alder woods. Mixed birth and alder woods then developed and the formation of an organic layer started with the accumulation of humus. Birch then largely replaced alder but both were superseded by pine forest about 50 y before the start of the investigation. After pine forest establishment, Sphagnum invaded, peat accumulation started and paludification was under way. Soil waterlogging necessary for paludification to proceed was a result of a low hydraulic head and shallow hydraulic gradient between the study area and the sea. The vegetation succession is comparable with contemporary succession around the present coastline of Hailuoto and on other Finnish islands. Paludification of the area was an autogenic process; no anthropogenic influences were detected. The relevance of this to the origin of blanket mire in Britain during prehistoric times is discussed. It is suggested that more evidence is required to clarify the roles of forest clearance and climate in the inception of blanket mire in Britain.