Development of a landscape in NE Minnesota, from the Early Holocene to forest-harvesting, agriculture and industry

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An array of lake sediment proxies including paleobotanic, geochemical, and historical records has been used to determine former environments of Bugbee Pond, a small, mesotrophic pond in northeastern Minnesota. Much research has been produced on the history of climate and vegetation change of the region, yet we have little information on the impact of human settlement. This well-dated, high resolution, multi-proxy record is important for its length and concentration on the historic period. The lake itself became established by ~7000 years ago. Pollen evidence suggests a transition between the regional Prairie Period to the Great Lakes mixed conifer – hardwood forest was established in the region at this time. XRF data suggest dry basin accumulation early in the record after ~7000 cal yr BP, but lake levels substantially increased by ~5600 cal yr BP, during a regionwide climatic transition to more humid conditions. Birch and boreal conifers increased after about 3800 cal yr BP; further increases in boreal conifers occurred by ~2000 cal yr BP. Anthropogenic vegetation changes during the Historic period, beginning in the late 19th century, is well represented by forest clearance of white pine (Pinus strobus), followed by increases in early successional species and an increased sediment accumulation rate due to land clearance. Establishment of farming communities locally are shown by occurrence of corn (Zea mays) and oat (Avena sativa) pollen, and pasturing and grazing are documented by Rumex, Fabaceae and Poaceae pollen, as well as coprophilous fungi, such as Sordaria. The increase and subsequent decline in Pb and S concentrations in the uppermost sediments are mirrored by historically documented, nearby industrial activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalThe Holocene
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

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  • Holocene
  • Minnesota
  • NPPs
  • XRF core scanning
  • agricultural indicators
  • human impact
  • pollen
  • sediment geochemistry


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