Research

Our research focuses on changes of Lateglacial and Holocene vegetation, which were triggered by climatic fluctuations and human impact on the environment in various archaeological time periods. Most research is being carried out in Ljubljansko barje, Julian Alps and Bela Krajina regions of Slovenia, in cooperation with other researchers.

 

Ljubljansko barje

Pollen preservation in waterlogged sediments of Ljubljansko barje is excellent. The results of multidisciplinary palaeoecological research (Andrič et al. 2008) suggest that at the end of the last Ice Age predominantly pine-birch woodlands were growing around the former lake at Ljubljansko barje. About 11.700 years ago climate became warmer and wetter and the lake was surrounded by mixed, predominantly broadleaved forest. Beech forests spread early in the Holocene, whereas fir-beech forests dominated ca. 9000 years ago. At about 6750-6000 BP climate probably became slightly drier, lake shallower, beech-fir forests retreated. Afterwards beech and fir expanded again, but also declined due to human impact.

Neolithic inhabitants of Ljubljansko barje, who needed open areas for farming were cutting and burning forests to create fields and pastures. In archaeological cultural layers of pile dwelling settlements, which are dated to the 4th millennium BC, plant macrofossils and pollen of cultivated plants (e. g. cereals and flax) were discovered.

In the 18th and 19th centuries AD peat at Ljubljansko barje was cut and burnt to drain the area. In this way palaeoecological record in younger layers of the Holocene was destroyed throughout most of the Ljubljansko barje. Therefore, information about the vegetation history in the last few millennia is preserved only in few places (e.g. at Podpeško jezero, Mali plac, Jurčevo šotišče), and the aim of on-going research in the area is to investigate peat bogs Mali plac and Jurčevo šotišče in vicinity of the Bevke village.

Julian Alps

Research in the Julian Alps focuses on multidisciplinary investigations of sediment from Lakes Bled, Bohinj and Šijec peat bog (Pokljuka plateau). In the last few years sedimentary cores from several mountain lakes in the Triglav National Park were also collected.

Palaeoecological research of sediment, which deposited in the Lake Bled towards the end of the last Ice Age enabled the reconstruction of climatic fluctuations and changes of vegetation between ca. 20.000–10.000 cal. BP (Andrič et al. 2009). Thin layers of microscopic volcanic ash deriving from Italian and Icelandic volcanos were also discovered (Lane et al. 2011, Andrič and Lane 2011). Currently, investigations of 12m long cores, which were collected from Lakes Bled and Bohinj in 2012, are being carried out. Preliminary results suggest that ca. 6800 years ago the area was affected by a very strong earthquake, whereas in the Iron Age beech forests growing around Lake Bohinj were cut due to metallurgic activities.

At the moment palynological research of mountain lakes in Triglav National Park (TNP) halted. We are looking for funding for a three year post for a young researcher (PhD student) to analyse pollen in cores collected in Triglav lakes. If you have an idea how to obtain funding to continue research in this wonderful area of TNP, please contact me at maja.andric@zrc-sazu.si.

Bela krajina

In Bela Krajina region of south eastern Slovenia small marshes in vicinity of Mali Nerajac (Mlaka) and the Griblje village were investigated to study the impact of first, Neolithic farmers on the vegetation. Palynological research (Andrič 2007) has demonstrated that Bela Krajina is very old cultural landscape with long history of human impact on the environment. In the last 6000 years (since Neolithic) people were cutting and burning (beech) forests and significantly changed vegetation composition. With moderate human impact on the environment biodiversity increased and mosaic landscape formed. In the past bech (and fir) were widespread, whereas today there is more oak and hornbeam.

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