Publisher © Czech Geological Survey, ISSN: 2336-5757 (online), 0514-8057 (print)

Testing the distribution model of Ledum palustre L. using paleoecological data


Tomáš Radoměřský, Petr Kuneš, Přemysl Bobek

Geoscience Research Reports 50, 2017, pages 65–71

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Published online: 29 June 2017

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Significant changes in vegetation cover took place during the Holocene on the territory of the Czech Switzerland National Park. This evolution resulted in the most developed broadleaf deciduous forests, which expanded into Central Europe during mid-Holocene climatic optimum. These transformations are caused by climatic changes. However, it started the process of soil acidification to this day that caused the other variations of the vegetation composition, even the extinction a variety of species particularly in sandstone areas. In addition, in the last few centuries the human impact is increasing. The human changes more or less of the original forests due to agricultural and economic reasons to breed-specific and the same-aged plantations. This supports the already declining species diversity and relative abundance of the undergrowth species.
This study focuses on a single species, the evergreen undergrowth shrub Ledum palustre which is characterized by strong demands on its habitat and indicates the specific habitat type. It grows on the upper north-facing edges of rocks with plenty of light and humidity. At these locations is stored organic material due to the favourable hydrology. This makes possible to study the use of pollen and macroremains for the paleoecology of the species. On the basis of recent occurrences and the relationships of the species to its current environment was drawn up a predictive distribution model for the species. For these purposes was chosen the Maxent model based on the machine learning and environmental variables derived from digital terrain model. Subsequently was tested the presence of Ledum palustre in humic soil horizon using the analysis of pollen grains. We correlated the fossil and recent occurrences. The results of the pollen analysis indicate the long-term survival of the heliophyte species at suitable locations across the Holocene. It suggests a long-term stability of the environment which is in contrast with significant changes in vegetation cover. Results support the idea of a diversified Holocene development of vegetation. This very diverse landscape of the Bohemian Switzerland sandstone allows surviving glacial relict Ledum palustre.


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