Raised peatbog development and possible responses to environmental changes during the mid- to late-Holocene: Can the palaeoecological record be used to predict the nature and response of raised peat bogs to future climate changes?

Dmitri Mauquoy, D. Yeloff

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28 Citations (Scopus)


Palaeoecological analyses of raised peat bog deposits in northwest Europe show the naturalness, antiquity and robust response of these ecosystems to environmental changes from c. 7800 years ago to the present. A review of the techniques used to identify these long-term features is presented and the role of climate change, autogenic change processes and human disturbance is discussed. Millennial records of vegetation changes recorded in peat deposits demonstrate the response (often rapid) of raised peat bog vegetation to climatic changes during the mid-Holocene, Bronze Age/Iron Age transition and the Little Ice Age. Greenhouse warming scenarios exceed the reconstructed Holocene record of climatic changes (c. the last 11, 500 years), and bog-water tables may fall considerably. A combination of centennial palaeoecological analyses of bogs affected by human disturbance and experimental manipulations have been used as analogues for the potential response of raised peat bog vegetation to these changes. These show that possible greenhouse gas climate forcing scenarios may exceed the ability of Sphagnum- dominated raised peat bogs to respond to projected increases in summer temperature and decreases in summer precipitation. In combination with increasing N deposition, a loss of their Sphagnum-rich vegetation and increases in the abundance of vascular plants could occur on decadal timescales.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2139-2151
Number of pages12
JournalBiodiversity and Conservation
Issue number9
Early online date2 Sep 2007
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2008


  • climate change
  • conservation
  • macrofossils
  • palaeoclimate
  • raised peat bogs
  • solar forcing
  • organic deposits
  • Northern England
  • mire ecosystems
  • testate amebas
  • solar-activity
  • Walton Moss
  • Scots Pine
  • sphagnum
  • variability
  • Ireland

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