Articles | Volume 13, issue 5
Biogeosciences, 13, 1423–1437, 2016

Special issue: Integrated perspectives on biological and geological dynamics...

Biogeosciences, 13, 1423–1437, 2016

Research article 08 Mar 2016

Research article | 08 Mar 2016

Pollen-based paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic change at Lake Ohrid (south-eastern Europe) during the past 500 ka

Laura Sadori1, Andreas Koutsodendris2, Konstantinos Panagiotopoulos3, Alessia Masi1, Adele Bertini4, Nathalie Combourieu-Nebout5, Alexander Francke6, Katerina Kouli7, Sébastien Joannin8, Anna Maria Mercuri9, Odile Peyron8, Paola Torri9, Bernd Wagner6, Giovanni Zanchetta10, Gaia Sinopoli1, and Timme H. Donders11 Laura Sadori et al.
  • 1Dipartimento di Biologia Ambientale, Università di Roma “La Sapienza”, Rome, Italy
  • 2Paleoenvironmental Dynamics Group, Institute of Earth Sciences, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany
  • 3Institute of Geography and Education, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany
  • 4Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, Università di Firenze, Florence, Italy
  • 5HNHP – Histoire naturelle de l'Homme préhistorique, UMR 7194 CNRS, Département de Préhistoire, Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle, Institut de Paléontologie Humaine, Paris, France
  • 6Institute for Geology and Mineralogy, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany
  • 7Faculty of Geology and Geoenvironment, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece
  • 8CNRS UMR 5554, Institut des Sciences de l'Evolution de Montpellier, Université de Montpellier, Montpellier, France
  • 9Dipartimento di Scienze della Vita, Laboratorio di Palinologia e Paleobotanica, Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy
  • 10Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy
  • 11Palaeoecology, Department of Physical Geography, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands

Abstract. Lake Ohrid is located at the border between FYROM (Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia) and Albania and formed during the latest phases of Alpine orogenesis. It is the deepest, the largest and the oldest tectonic lake in Europe. To better understand the paleoclimatic and paleoenvironmental evolution of Lake Ohrid, deep drilling was carried out in 2013 within the framework of the Scientific Collaboration on Past Speciation Conditions (SCOPSCO) project that was funded by the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP). Preliminary results indicate that lacustrine sedimentation of Lake Ohrid started between 1.2 and 1.9 Ma ago. Here we present new pollen data (selected percentage and concentration taxa/groups) of the uppermost  ∼  200 m of the 569 m long DEEP core drilled in the depocentre of Lake Ohrid. The study is the fruit of a cooperative work carried out in several European palynological laboratories. The age model of this part of the core is based on 10 tephra layers and on tuning of biogeochemical proxy data to orbital parameters.

According to the age model, the studied sequence covers the last  ∼  500 000 years at a millennial-scale resolution ( ∼  1.6 ka) and records the major vegetation and climate changes that occurred during the last 12 (13 only pro parte) marine isotope stages (MIS). Our results indicate that there is a general good correspondence between forested/non-forested periods and glacial–interglacial cycles of the marine isotope stratigraphy. The record shows a progressive change from cooler and wetter to warmer and drier interglacial conditions. This shift in temperature and moisture availability is visible also in vegetation during glacial periods.

The period corresponding to MIS11 (pollen assemblage zone OD-10, 428–368 ka BP) is dominated by montane trees such as conifers. Mesophilous elements such as deciduous and semi-deciduous oaks dominate forest periods of MIS5 (PASZ OD-3, 129–70 ka BP) and MIS1 (PASZ OD-1, 14 ka BP to present). Moreover, MIS7 (PASZ OD-6, 245–190 ka) shows a very high interglacial variability, with alternating expansions of montane and mesophilous arboreal taxa. Grasslands (open vegetation formations requiring relatively humid conditions) characterize the earlier glacial phases of MIS12 (PASZ OD-12, 488–459 ka), MIS10 (corresponding to the central part of PASZ OD-10, 428–366 ka) and MIS8 (PASZ OD-7, 288–245 ka). Steppes (open vegetation formations typical of dry environments) prevail during MIS6 (OD-5 and OD-4, 190–129 ka) and during MIS4-2 (PASZ OD-2, 70–14 ka).

Our palynological results support the notion that Lake Ohrid has been a refugium area for both temperate and montane trees during glacials. Closer comparisons with other long southern European and Near Eastern pollen records will be achieved through ongoing high-resolution studies.

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Short summary
Lake Ohrid (FYROM/Albania) is the deepest, largest and oldest lake in Europe. To understand the climatic and environmental evolution of its area, a palynological study was undertaken for the last 500 ka. We found a correspondence between forested/non-forested periods and glacial-interglacial cycles of marine isotope stratigraphy. Our record shows a progressive change from cooler and wetter to warmer and dryer interglacial conditions. This shift is also visible in glacial vegetation.
Final-revised paper