Differences in the vegetation of the North Iberian Peninsula during the last 16,000 years

Research paper by P. Ramil-Rego, C. Muñoz-Sobrino, M. Rodríguez-Guitián, L. Gómez-Orellana

Indexed on: 01 Sep '98Published on: 01 Sep '98Published in: Plant Ecology


The dynamics of vegetation in the North Iberian Peninsula have been historically established from peaty and lacustrine records obtained in strongly continental mountainous areas. Pollen records located in areas with a more oceanic climate, have allowed a more precise evaluation of the changes and differences in the vegetation development of the various biogeographical areas in the North Iberian Peninsula, during the Late-glacial and Holocene. It was found that: (1) The vegetation of the Cantabrian–Atlantic province in northern Iberian Peninsula responded to climatic changes during the last 16000 years. (2) Tree vegetation declined during the Oldest Dryas, with steppe vegetation in the interior and cryophilous vegetation along the coast. (3) During the time of the Lateglacial Interestadial, lowlands, arboreal vegetation was dominant in the landscape (Pinus, Betula, Quercus, Corylus). (4) During the Younger Dryas the differences between coast and interior are less obvious. (5) During the Holocene oceanic decidious forests of Quercus robur, Corylus avellana, Tilia sp. and Fagus sylvatica were present along the coast. At low altitudes, in the interior, forests of Quercus robur / pyrenaica, enclaves of pine woods and Mediterranean types of forest (Quercus ilex, Olea europea) were present. At higher altitudes Pinus (P. sylvestris and P. uncinata) or mixed forests of Pinus and Betula were dominant.