Ecological and wildfire responses to rapid landscape changes within the last ~900 years on the South Haven Peninsula, Dorset (Southern England)

Daniel Howlett, Sabine Wulf, Scarlett Wharram, Mark Hardiman, Harry Byrne

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Abstract

A multi-proxy palaeoenvironmental dataset (LOI, pollen, charcoal, grain sizes and the humification index) was extracted and radiocarbon dated from a sedimentary sequence from Spur Bog, central South Haven Peninsula (Dorset, southern England) to reconstruct ecological and environmental changes within the last ~900 years. These analyses reveal highly unstable environmental conditions at the site, evidencing the occurrence of multiple, often rapid changes during this period. The results significantly expand upon the existing palaeoenvironmental and geomorphological frameworks of the South Haven Peninsula which previously relied upon sparse, vague historical records prior to ~1750 AD. The multi-proxy dataset of Spur Bog sediments recorded a primary “development” phase (~1150–1470 AD) during which marine processes were the dominant control upon environmental conditions at the site, resulting in marked geomorphological changes that lead to the progressive eastward expansion of the South Haven Peninsula. This is followed by a secondary “maturation” phase (~1470–1880 AD) during which the Spur Bog sequence exhibits significant ecological changes in response to fluctuations in sea level, coastal erosion and human activity, demonstrating the vulnerability of the site to future climatic and anthropogenic pressures.
Original languageEnglish
Article number27
Number of pages23
JournalQuaternary
Volume5
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2022

Keywords

  • ecology
  • wildfire
  • landscape changes
  • Spur Bog
  • South Haven Peninsula
  • southern England
  • late Holocene

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