Environmental Archaeology and Materials Science

Kongens Lyngby, Denmark

Environmental Archaeology and Materials Science

Kongens Lyngby, Denmark
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Boulanger-Lapointe N.,University of Quebec at Trois - Rivieres | Boulanger-Lapointe N.,Laval University | Levesque E.,University of Quebec at Trois - Rivieres | Levesque E.,Laval University | And 2 more authors.
Polar Research | Year: 2016

Arctic terrestrial ecosystems are heterogeneous because of the strong influences of microtopography, soil moisture and snow accumulation on vegetation distribution. The interaction between local biotic and abiotic factors and global climate patterns will influence species responses to climate change. Salix arctica (Arctic willow) is a structuring species, ubiquitous and widespread, and as such is one of the most important shrub species in the High Arctic. In this study, we measured S. arctica reproductive effort, early establishment, survival and growth in the Zackenberg valley, north-east Greenland. We sampled four plant communities that varied with respect to snow conditions, soil moisture, nutrient content and plant composition. We found large variability in reproductive effort and success with total catkin density ranging from 0.6 to 66 catkins/m2 and seedling density from B1 to 101 seedlings/m2. There were also major differences in crown area increment (4-23 cm2/year) and stem radial growth (40-74 μm/year). The snowbed community, which experienced a recent reduction in snow cover, supported young populations with high reproductive effort, establishment and growth. Soil nutrient content and herbivore activity apparently did not strongly constrain plant reproduction and growth, but competition by Cassiope tetragona and low soil moisture may inhibit performance. Our results show that local environmental factors, such as snow accumulation, have a significant impact on tundra plant response to climate change and will affect the understanding of regional vegetation response to climate change. © 2016 N. Boulanger-Lapointe et al.

Lewis J.P.,Loughborough University | Ryves D.B.,Loughborough University | Rasmussen P.,Environmental Archaeology and Materials Science | Rasmussen P.,Geological Survey of Denmark | And 7 more authors.
Quaternary Science Reviews | Year: 2016

The well-known and widespread replacement of oysters (abundant during the Mesolithic period) by cockles and mussels in many Danish Stone Age shell middens ca. 5900 cal yrs BP coincides with the transition to agriculture in southern Scandinavia. This human resource shift is commonly believed to reflect changing resource availability, driven by environmental and/or climatic change at the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition rather than cultural choice. While several hypotheses have been proposed to explain the “Mesolithic-Neolithic oyster decline”, an explanation based on a sudden freshening of the inner Danish waters has received most attention. Here, for the first time, we test and refute this long-standing hypothesis that declining salinity explains the marked reduction in oysters identified within numerous shell middens across coastal Denmark at the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition using quantitative and qualitative salinity inference from several, independent proxies (diatoms, molluscs and foraminifera) from multiple Danish fjord sites. Alternatively, we attribute the oyster decline to other environmental causes (particularly changing sedimentation), ultimately driven by external climatic forcing. Critical application of such high-quality environmental archives can reinvigorate archaeological debates and can aid in understanding and managing environmental change in increasingly impacted coastal regions. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd

Myers-Smith I.H.,University of Edinburgh | Hallinger M.,University of Greifswald | Hallinger M.,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences | Blok D.,Copenhagen University | And 20 more authors.
Earth-Science Reviews | Year: 2015

Shrubs have increased in abundance and dominance in arctic and alpine regions in recent decades. This often dramatic change, likely due to climate warming, has the potential to alter both the structure and function of tundra ecosystems. The analysis of shrub growth is improving our understanding of tundra vegetation dynamics and environmental changes. However, dendrochronological methods developed for trees, need to be adapted for the morphology and growth eccentricity of shrubs. Here, we review current and developing methods to measure radial and axial growth, estimate age, and assess growth dynamics in relation to environmental variables. Recent advances in sampling methods, analysis and applications have improved our ability to investigate growth and recruitment dynamics of shrubs. However, to extrapolate findings to the biome scale, future dendroecological work will require improved approaches that better address variation in growth within parts of the plant, among individuals within populations and between species. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.

Biginagwa F.J.,Roskilde University | Biginagwa F.J.,Sokoine University of Agriculture | Mayoma B.S.,Roskilde University | Shashoua Y.,Environmental Archaeology and Materials Science | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Great Lakes Research | Year: 2016

Microplastic contamination in the African Great Lakes is currently unreported, and compared to other regions of the world little is known about the occurrence of microplastics in African waters and their fauna. The present study was conducted in the Mwanza region of Tanzania, located on the southern shore of Lake Victoria. The gastrointestinal tracts of locally fished Nile perch (Lates niloticus) and Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) were examined for plastics. Plastics were confirmed in 20% of fish from each species by Attenuated Total Reflectance Fourier Transform Infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy. A variety of polymer types were identified with likely sources being urban waste and consumer use. Although further research is required to fully assess the impact of plastic pollution in this region, our study is the first to report the presence of microplastics in Africa's Great Lakes and within the fish species that inhabit them. © 2015 International Association for Great Lakes Research.

Mortensen M.F.,Environmental Archaeology and Materials Science | Henriksen P.S.,Environmental Archaeology and Materials Science | Bennike O.,Geological Survey of Denmark
Vegetation History and Archaeobotany | Year: 2014

The immigration of woody plants, especially Betula (tree birch), is examined in relation to geomorphological regions in a compilation of Late-glacial plant macrofossil records from Denmark. The immigration of trees led to a large ecological transformation of the landscape and had a major effect on the flora and fauna available to Palaeolithic people. We show that soil type was a controlling factor in the development of vegetation during the Allerød and Younger Dryas periods. Following the first immigration of trees during the Allerød period, woods became established in the eastern part of Denmark, where ice advances from the Baltic had deposited calcareous and clayey sediments. The western and northern parts of Denmark that are characterised by more sandy and non-calcareous sediments remained treeless throughout the whole Late-glacial period. Finds from the Bromme Culture are concentrated in the region which was wooded, suggesting that the regional variable environment allowed local adaptations using the diverse resources available. © 2014 The Author(s).

PubMed | University of Southern Denmark, Copenhagen University and Environmental Archaeology and Materials Science
Type: | Journal: The Science of the total environment | Year: 2016

The land use within a catchment may markedly affect the environmental conditions in a lake and the storage capability of its sediments. This study investigated how changes in the dominant catchment vegetation (from local stands of deciduous trees over extensive heathland with some agriculture to mainly coniferous forest) occurring during the last ca. 200years were reflected in the sediments of a soft water lake and how these changes influenced the lake ecosystem. Pollen, macrofossils, metals, different phosphorus (P) forms, organic matter, carbon and nitrogen contents were determined in short sediment cores. This novel combination of proxies revealed that 1) the reduction of deciduous trees in the watershed seemingly reduced the calcium (Ca) supply to the lake and thereby its buffering capacity. This development was accompanied by decreased abundances of Ca-dependent species and subsequent increases in acidophilic species. 2) The sedimentary contents of organic matter, non-reactive P and humic-bound P were evidently higher in sediments deposited during the time when deciduous trees were abundant, which is probably linked to a stabilising effect by Ca. 3) An erosion event clearly reduced the amounts of macrofossils of isoetid species and characeans, indicating a reduction in their maximum distribution depth because of lower water transparency. Overall, the results of our paleolimnological study are of importance within lake management by convincingly showing how land use changes may (irreversibly) affect environmental conditions and species composition in soft water lakes and the storage of organic matter and P in their sediments.

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