03 Apr 2023
 | 03 Apr 2023
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Comparison of paleobotanical and biomarker records of mountain peatland and forest ecosystem dynamics over the last 2600 years in Central Germany

Carrie L. Thomas, Boris Jansen, Sambor Czerwiński, Mariusz Gałka, Klaus-Holger Knorr, E. Emiel van Loon, Markus Egli, and Guido L. B. Wiesenberg

Abstract. As peatlands are a major terrestrial sink in the global carbon cycle, gaining understanding of their development and changes throughout time is essential to predict their future carbon budget and potentially mitigate negative influences of climate change. With this aim to understand peat development, many studies have investigated the paleoecological dynamics through the analysis of various proxies, including pollen, macrofossil, elemental, and biomarker analyses. However, as each of these proxies are known to have their own benefits and limitations, examining them in parallel potentially allows for a deeper understanding of these paleoecological dynamics at the peatland and for a systematic comparison of the power of these individual proxies. In this study, we therefore analyzed soil cores from a peatland in Germany (Beerberg, Thuringia) to a) characterize the vegetation dynamics over the course of the peatland development during the late Holocene and b) evaluate to what extent the inclusion of multiple proxies, specifically pollen, macrofossil, and biomarkers, contributes to a deeper understanding of those dynamics and interaction among factors. We found that, despite a major shift in regional forest composition from primarily beech to spruce as well as many indicators of human impact in the region, the local plant population in the Beerberg area remained stable over time following the initial phase of peatland development up until the last couple of centuries. Therefore, little variation could be derived from the paleobotanical data alone. The combination of pollen and macrofossil analyses with the elemental and biomarker analyses enabled further understanding of the site development as these proxies added valuable additional information including the occurrence of climatic variations, such as the Little Ice Age, and more recent disturbances such as drainage and dust deposition.

Carrie L. Thomas et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on bg-2023-57', Anonymous Referee #1, 30 Apr 2023
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Carrie Thomas, 09 Jul 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on bg-2023-57', Anonymous Referee #2, 02 Jun 2023
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Carrie Thomas, 09 Jul 2023

Carrie L. Thomas et al.

Carrie L. Thomas et al.


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Short summary
Peatlands are vital terrestrial ecosystems that can serve as archives, preserving records of past vegetation and climate. We reconstructed the vegetation history over the last 2600 years of the Beerberg peatland and surrounding area in the Thuringian Forest in Germany using multiple analyses. We found that, although the forest composition transitioned and human influence increased, the peatland remained relatively stable until more recent times, when drainage and dust deposition had an impact.