Journal article

Multidisciplinary approach to reconstructing local pastoral activities: an example from the Pyrenean Mountains (Pays Basqueq)

In this study archaeology, history and palaeoecology (modern and fossil data sets of pollen and non-pollen palynomorphs) were used to reconstruct small-scale pastoral activities in the Pyrenees Mountain during the last two millennia. Modern pollen assemblages from the major vegetation units (both natural and anthropogenic) are studied on one restricted watershed area. A correlative model (RDA) of 61 modern pollen spectra and 35 external variables distinguishes two groups of taxa, providing information on the nature and spatial extent of human impact on the landscape. The first pool indicates local pastoral activities, and the second one implies regional input from outside the studied watershed, and is not characteristic of a specific land use. These pools are described as 'Local Pastoral Pollen Indicators' (LPPI) for this particular mountain region on crystalline bedrock and 'Regional Human Activities Pollen Indicators' (RHAPI). The modern data set is used to aid interpretation of the local pollen sequence of Sourzay that covers the last 2000 calendar years BP, using RDA reconstructions, and best modern analogues as a means of comparing modern and fossil spectra. The study also demonstrates agreement between the independent interpretations of two fossil proxies, LPPI and corophilous fungi.

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