Elevational gradients during the Late-Glacial/Holocene vegetational transition in southern Bulgaria

Vania Stefanova, Maria Lazarova, Herbert E. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The Late Glacial and early-Holocene vegetational history of a newly dated pollen and macrofossil diagram from Besbog, a cirque lake at 2250 m just above the forest limit in the Pirin Mountains of southwestern Bulgaria, is compared with a newly dated pollen diagram for the mire Shiroka Polyana at 1400 m in the conifer forest of the nearby Rhodope Mountains in order to investigate the chronology of major changes in the vegetation at different elevations. In the Lake Besbog record the non-arboreal pollen assemblage of the Late Glacial changed abruptly to that of Betula, Quercus and other deciduous types. The date for this change is about 11.6 ka cal b.p. The Quercus assemblage may be composed of pollen blown from intermediate elevations, to which deciduous forest had expanded because of higher summer temperatures related to high summer insolation. At Shiroka Polyana (1400 m) in the modern conifer belt, a similar change did not occur until about 8.8 ka cal b.p. The persistence of the dry steppe or steppe forest in the early Holocene at this lower site can also be attributed to high summer insolation. Thus as atmospheric temperature increased at the end of the Late Glacial, deciduous forests expanded first at intermediate elevations in the Pirin Mountains and only later in the Rhodope Mountains at lower elevations as summer insolation decreased.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)333-343
Number of pages11
JournalVegetation History and Archaeobotany
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 1 2006


  • Bulgaria
  • Holocene
  • Late Glacial
  • Pirin Mountains
  • Rhodope Mountains
  • Vegetation history


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