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Landscape change in the Icelandic highland: A long-term record of the impacts of land use, climate and volcanism

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dc.contributor Háskóli Íslands
dc.contributor University of Iceland
dc.contributor.author Eddudóttir, Sigrún Dögg
dc.contributor.author Erlendsson, Egill
dc.contributor.author Gísladóttir, Guðrún
dc.date.accessioned 2020-12-17T12:26:11Z
dc.date.available 2020-12-17T12:26:11Z
dc.date.issued 2020-07-15
dc.identifier.citation Eddudóttir, S.D., Erlendsson, E., Gísladóttir, G., 2020. Landscape change in the Icelandic highland: A long-term record of the impacts of land use, climate and volcanism. Quaternary Science Reviews. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2020.106363
dc.identifier.issn 0277-3791
dc.identifier.uri https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11815/2297
dc.description Publisher's version (útgefin grein)
dc.description.abstract Agriculture has been practiced in Iceland since settlement (landnám; AD 877). This has caused changes in vegetation communities, soil erosion, desertification and loss of carbon stocks. Little data exist regarding vegetation and ecosystems in the Icelandic highland before landnám and therefore the impact of land use over time is poorly understood. The objectives of the study are to examine the timing, nature and causes of land degradation in the highland of Northwest Iceland. Specifically, to determine the resilience of the pre-landnám highland environment to disturbances (i.e. climate cooling and volcanism) and whether land use pressure was of sufficient magnitude to facilitate ecosystem change. A sediment core was taken from the highland lake Galtaból. A chronology for the core was constructed using known tephra layers and radiocarbon dated plant macrofossils. Pollen analysis (vegetation), coprophilous fungal spores (proxy for grazing), and sediment properties (proxies for erosion) were used to provide a high-resolution, integrated vegetation and paleoenvironmental reconstruction. The pre-landnám environment showed resilience to climate cooling and repeated tephra fall. Soon after landnám the vegetation community changed and instability increased, indicated by changes in sediment properties. The pollen and spore record suggest introduction of grazing herbivores into the area after landnám. Following landnám, indicators of soil erosion appear in the sediment properties. Intensification of soil erosion occurred during the 17th century. The Galtaból record clearly demonstrates what can happen in landscapes without adequate management of natural resources and underestimation of landscape sensitivity. Introduction of land use resulted in changes in vegetation communities, loss of resilience and onset of increased soil erosion. Paleoenvironmental reconstructions may inform future decisions on management of the highland by providing baselines for natural variability in the pre-landnám environment.
dc.description.sponsorship The authors would like to thank Þorsteinn Jónsson and Höskuldur Þorbjarnarson for assistance in the field. Jessica Lynn Till is thanked for proofreading the manuscript. We would like to thank Leone Tinganelli for his work on milling sediment samples for C and N analysis. The Blönduvirkjun hydropower plant kindly hosted us during fieldwork. The authors would like to thank three anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions. The research was funded by the Landsvirkjun Energy Research Fund, the University of Iceland Research Fund, and the Icelandic Research Fund (grant no. 141842-051 ).
dc.format.extent 106363
dc.language.iso en
dc.publisher Elsevier BV
dc.relation.ispartofseries Quaternary Science Reviews;240
dc.rights info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess
dc.subject Anthropocene
dc.subject Europe
dc.subject Organic geochemistry
dc.subject Paleolimnology
dc.subject Stable isotopes
dc.subject Vegetation dynamics
dc.subject Fornveðurfræði
dc.subject Setlög
dc.title Landscape change in the Icelandic highland: A long-term record of the impacts of land use, climate and volcanism
dc.type info:eu-repo/semantics/article
dcterms.license This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
dc.description.version Peer Reviewed
dc.identifier.journal Quaternary Science Reviews
dc.identifier.doi 10.1016/j.quascirev.2020.106363
dc.relation.url https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277379120303255?via%3Dihub
dc.contributor.department Líf- og umhverfisvísindastofnun (HÍ)
dc.contributor.department Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences (UI)
dc.contributor.department Jarðvísindastofnun (HÍ)
dc.contributor.department Institute of Earth Sciences (UI)
dc.contributor.school Verkfræði- og náttúruvísindasvið (HÍ)
dc.contributor.school School of Engineering and Natural Sciences (UI)

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