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New pollen evidence from Nariani (Georgia) for delayed postglacial forest expansion in the South Caucasus

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 February 2017

Erwan Messager*
CNRS UMR 5204 EDYTEM, Campus Technolac Savoie Mont Blanc University, 73376 Le Bourget-du-Lac, France
Sébastien Nomade
LSCE/IPSL, Laboratoire CEA-CNRS-UVSQ et Université de Paris-Saclay Domaine du CNRS, Bât. 12, Avenue de la Terrasse, 91198 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
Bruno Wilhelm
University Grenoble Alpes, LTHE, 38000 Grenoble, France
Sébastien Joannin
ISEM, UMR 5554 CNRS, Université de Montpellier, EPHE, IRD 226, CIRAD, 34095 Montpellier, France
Vincent Scao
LSCE/IPSL, Laboratoire CEA-CNRS-UVSQ et Université de Paris-Saclay Domaine du CNRS, Bât. 12, Avenue de la Terrasse, 91198 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
Ulrich Von Grafenstein
LSCE/IPSL, Laboratoire CEA-CNRS-UVSQ et Université de Paris-Saclay Domaine du CNRS, Bât. 12, Avenue de la Terrasse, 91198 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
Inga Martkoplishvili
Ilia State University, 3/5 Cholokashvili St., 0162 Tbilisi, Georgia Georgian National Museum, 3, Rustaveli Avenue, 0105 Tbilisi, Georgia
Vincent Ollivier
Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, MCC, LAMPEA UMR 7269, 13094 Aix-en-Provence, France
Ana Mgeladze
Georgian National Museum, 3, Rustaveli Avenue, 0105 Tbilisi, Georgia
Jean-Pascal Dumoulin
UMS 2572, Laboratoire de Mesure du Carbone 14, CEA Saclay, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
Arnaud Mazuy
UMR 7264, CEPAM-CNRS Nice Université, Campus SJA3, 06357 Nice Cedex 4, France
Soumaya Belmecheri
Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, 1215 East Lowell Street, Tucson, AZ 85721, United States
David Lordkipanidze
Georgian National Museum, 3, Rustaveli Avenue, 0105 Tbilisi, Georgia
*Corresponding author at: CNRS UMR 5204 EDYTEM, Campus Technolac Savoie Mont Blanc University, 73376 Le Bourget du Lac, France. E-mail address:


The nature and timing of environmental changes throughout the last glacial-interglacial transition in the South Caucasus, and more widely in eastern Europe, are still not fully understood. According to certain pollen records, forest expansion occurred in many areas several millennia after what is considered worldwide as the onset of the Holocene. The current problem we face is that the time lag in forest expansion varies from one sequence to another, sometimes with no delay at all. Moreover, the potential forcing/controlling factors behind this complex pattern, contrary to the almost synchronous global Holocene warming, are still a matter for debate. Accordingly, we revisit the issue of forest expansion through vegetation history obtained in the South Caucasus using a new pollen record, retrieved from the Nariani paleolake (South Georgia). These data attest to a steppic phase, initially dominated by Amaranthaceae-Chenopodiaceae (12,700–10,500 cal yr BP), then by Poaceae (10,500–9000 cal yr BP), culminating with a more forested phase (9000–5000 calyrBP). Although some palaeoclimatic regional reconstructions show a wet early Holocene, we interpret the delay in forest expansion recorded in Nariani (2500 years) as the result of reduced spring precipitation, which would have limited forest development at that time.

Research Article
Copyright © University of Washington. Published by Cambridge University Press, 2017 

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