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Evaluation of Holocene Pollen Records From the Romanian Plain, A.M.F.Tomescu,1999

Evaluation of Holocene Pollen Records From the Romanian Plain, A.M.F.Tomescu,1999

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Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 109 (2000) 219–233www.elsevier.nl
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Evaluation of Holocene pollen records from theRomanian Plain
Alexandru Mihail Florian Tomescu*
National Center for Pluridisciplinary Research, National History Museum of Romania, Calea Victoriei 12, Bucharest – 70412, Romania
Received 19 April 1999; accepted for publication 6 December 1999
Abstract
This study is a critical review of pollen analyses carried out on Holocene sequences from 15 sites in and near theRomanian Plain. Three sites come from natural sediments, 10 sites are from anthropogenic deposits and two are fromboth anthropogenic and natural settings. The general reconstruction is of a steppe–forest–steppe vegetation throughthe Holocene. The nature of the deposits, however, casts doubts on this reconstruction. Deposits of archaeologicalsites generally yield pollen spectra that are influenced by human activities and thus unsuitable for vegetationreconstructions. Loess deposits are also unfavorable for pollen preservation because of high pH and porosity.Consequently, pollen spectra from loess deposits are strongly biased by selective pollen destruction. Research andexperiments carried out by several authors suggest that spectra dominated by Asteraceae, Poaceae, Chenopodiaceaeor
Pinus
pollen in soils and loess are a result of selective pollen destruction, especially if low pollen concentrations,progressive pollen deterioration or high frequencies of deteriorated or unidentifiable pollen are evidenced. The factthat pollen records from the Romanian Plain come from loess, alkaline peat or archaeological sites reduces theirreliability for reconstructions of vegetation. The vegetation history of similar regions in Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkeysuggests that early Holocene steppe vegetation was gradually replaced by forest or forest–steppe vegetation in thelate Holocene. Records from lake sediments are required to find out whether the Holocene vegetation history of theRomanian Plain was similar. © 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Keywords:
biased pollen spectra; Holocene vegetation; pollen-analytical information; pollen preservation; Romanian Plain; selectivepollen destruction
1. Introduction
The Romanian Plain (also known as the LowerDanube Plain) is a low-lying region encompassedLittle is known about the Holocene vegetationby the Carpathian–Balkan arc. It is bounded byhistory of the Romanian Plain, although severalthe Carpathian foothills to the north and west andpapers touch upon this subject. The present paperby the Balkan foothills (Pre-Balkan Plateau) toreviews pollen studies from the Romanian Plainthe south. The Danube valley marks the southernand assesses their reliability as records of regionallimit of the Romanian Plain. To the northeast, thevegetation history.plain stretches to the Moldavian Plateau, and atits eastern border, the Danube’s floodplain sepa-
* Present address: Department of Environmental and Plant
rates the plain from the Dobrogean Plateau
Biology, Ohio University, Athens, OH 45701-2979, USA.
(Fig. 1). The altitudes are
<
100 m a.s.l. in most
Fax:
+
1-740-593-1130.
E-mail address:
mi@europe.com (A.M.F. Tomescu)
of the Romanian Plain. The lowest elevations
0034-6667
/
00
/
$ - see front matter © 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.PII: S0034-6667(99)00056-1
 
220
A.M.F. Tomescu
Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 109 (2000) 219–233
    F    i   g .    1 .    R   o   m   a   n    i   a   n    P    l   a    i   n   a   n    d    i    t   s   r   e   g    i   o   n .    G   e   o   g   r   a   p    h    i   c   p   o   s    i    t    i   o   n ,   m   a    i   n   v   e   g   e    t   a    t    i   o   n   u   n    i    t   s   a   n    d   s    i    t   e   s   w    i    t    h   p   o    l    l   e   n   a   n   a    l   y   s   e   s   ;    B   o
   =
    B   o   r    d   u   s   a   n    i   ;    B   u
   =
    B   u   c   o   v   ;    C   a
   =
    C   a   r    l   o   m   a   n   e   s    t    i   ;    C   o
   =
    C   o   s    l   o   g   e   n    i   ;    C   r
   =
    C   r   a    i   o   v    i    t   a   ;    D
   =
    D   u   r   a   n    k   u    l   a    k   ;    F
   =
    F   a   r   c   a   s   u    l    d   e    S   u   s   ;    H
   =
    H   a   r   s   o   v   a   ;    L
   =
    L   e   u   ;    M    R
   =
    M   a    l   u    R   o   s   u   ;    O
   =
    O   v    i    d    i   u   ;    P
   =
    P   a    d   e   a ,    P   a
   =
    P   a   n    t   e    l    i   m   o   n ,    R
   =
    R   o   g   o   v   a   ;    R   a
   =
    R   a    d    i   v   a    b   y   ;    S
   =
    S   g   a    b    k   a   ;    V   a
   =
    V   a    ˜    d   a   s    t   r   a   ;    V    l
   =
    V    l   a    d   u   c   e   a   s   c   a .
 
221
A.M.F. Tomescu
Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 109 (2000) 219–233
occur in the Danube’s floodplain, whereas the The north–south strip between the Danube (tothe east) and approximately the 27
°
30’E meridiannorthern and northwestern part reaches 200 to
>
300 m in elevation. (to the west) supports steppe vegetation of Poaceaeand dicotyledons. This vegetation consists of The climate of the Romanian Plain is charac-terized by a high degree of continentality; the mean
Festuca valesiaca
,
Stipa ucrainica
,
Stipa capillata
,
Centaurea orientalis
,
Astragalus ponticus
andannual temperature range is
>
25–26
°
C, while themean annual precipitation is about 500 mm (Ros¸u,
Thymus marschallianus
.The Romanian Plain is the main agricultural1980). The mean annual temperatures are about11
°
C (and not less than 10
°
C). The mean January region of Romania, and most of the native vegeta-tion has been destroyed in recent decades. As atemperature ranges between
4 and
1
°
C,whereas the mean July temperature is
>
22
°
C and result, it is encountered nowadays only in smallareas scattered within cultivated fields. Most dis-even exceeds 23
°
C on a narrow strip along theDanube. Summers are hot, while winters are cold, turbed of the three, steppe vegetation is nowpreserved only on commons and high riverbanks.but short, and the frost period lasts about 100 days,from late October to early April. Slight variations In addition to the zonal vegetation units,Danube’s floodplain and the other river valleysin these climatic features across the RomanianPlain result in a climate with submediterranean feature riparian forests, coppices and marshes. Inthe Danube valley
Salix
,
Populus
and
Alnus
cop-influences in the western part, and an extremecontinental climate in the eastern part. pices and
Tamarix ramosissima
bushes with
Calamagrostis tenuis
are present. Along other riverThe present vegetation in the Romanian Plaincan be broadly divided into three zones (Fig. 1). valleys, the arboreal vegetation includes mainly
Quercus robur
,
Q. pedunculiflora
,
Fraxinus pallisae
,The submesic–thermophilic oak forests are presentnorth of 44
°
8
N and west of 26
°
27
E. These forests
F. angustifolia
,
Ulmus minor
,
U. glabra
,
U. laevis
,
Acer campestre
,
A. tataricum
and
Alnus glutinosa
are dominated by
Quercus cerris
and
Q. frainetto
and can also include
Q. pedunculiflora
in the south and is accompanied by understory vegetation o
Cornus sanguinea
,
Frangula alnus
,
Viburnum
and
Q. robur
in the east, that are accompanied by
Ulmus minor
,
Carpinus betulus
,
Tilia tomentosa
,
opulus
,
Crataegus monogyna
,
Evonymus europaeus
,
Ligustrum vulgare
and
Prunus spinosa
(Sanda
Fraxinus ornus
,
Acer tataricum
,
A. campestre
. Theunderstory includes
Crataegus monogyna
,
C. penta-
et al., 1992).
 gyna
,
Prunus spinosa
,
Rosa dumetorum
,
Evonymusverrucosa
,
Cornus mas
,
C. sanguinea
,
Ligustrumvulgare
and even
Cotinus
. The ground layer is
2. Pollen analyses in the Romanian Plain
dominated by
Poa angustifolia
,
Festuca valesiaca
,
Lychnis coronaria
,
Potentilla argentea
,
Geum urba-
Pollen analyses have been carried out in 15 sitesin and near the Romanian Plain (Fig. 1). Of these
num
and
Fragaria viridis
(S¸erba˜nescu, 1975; Sandaet al., 1992). sites, ve are located on or near the margin of theplain–two at border of the Carpathian foothillsSouth and east of this first vegetation zone isforest–steppe with subxeric–thermophilic oak and three near the margin of Dobrogea. The othersites are situated on the plain.groves. The dominant tree is
Quercus pubescens
;
Q. pedunculiflora
is more frequent in low regions. The first pollen analysis from the RomanianPlain was carried out by Pop (1957) in the peatThese species are accompanied by
Q. virgiliana
,
Q.cerris
,
Acer tataricum
and
Prunus mahaleb
. bog of Craiovit¸a. Based on 14 analyzed samples,the sequence was assigned to the Boreal andUnderstory trees are
Fraxinus ornus
and
Cotinuscoggygria
; the latter is locally abundant. The her- Subatlantic periods. Iliescu and Cioflica (1964)published the results of an eight-sample analysisbaceous vegetation includes mainly
Stipa steno- phylla
,
Poa angustifolia
,
Festuca valesiaca
, in loess sequences at Pantelimon (Bucharest). Inthe same year, Iliescu and Ghenea (1964) analyzed
Botriochloa ischaemum
,
Artemisia austriaca
,
Agrostis tenuis
,
Stipa capillata
and
Carex humilis
. 20 samples from a 35-m-long core of loess from

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