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Late Holocene Natural and Human-Induced Environmental Change Reconstructed from Peat Records in Eastern Central China

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 July 2016

Yan Zhao*
MOE Key Laboratory of Western China's Environmental System, College of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
Adam Hölzer
National Natural History Museum, Karlsruhe, Erbprinzenstr 13, D76133 Karlsruhe, Germany
Zicheng Yu
MOE Key Laboratory of Western China's Environmental System, College of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lehigh University, 31 Williams Drive, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania 18015, USA
Corresponding author. Email:
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We present a high-resolution multiproxy record (geochemistry, macrofossil, and pollen) from a peatland in the Dajiuhu Basin in eastern central China. The chronology of the 120-cm peat profile was controlled by 6 accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) 14C dates on plant remains, including 2 post-bomb dates. The age model was based on linear interpolations of calibrated ages. Plant macrofossil results indicate a major transition around 3600 cal BP from Sphagnum section Subsecunda and Drepanocladus sp. to Sphagnum imbricatum dominance, followed by the disappearance of S. imbricatum at 700 cal BP. These changes suggest a general sequence of local environment changes from a wet fen, through a Sphagnum-dominated peatland, to a dry sedge-dominated marsh, which are also reflected by change in peat lithology and composition. The drying trend after 3600 cal BP is in general agreement with the speleothem isotope record from this region and other paleoclimate records from east China, indicating a weakening summer monsoon resulting from a decrease in summer insolation. The shift to a dry environment at 700 cal BP might have been caused by human activities. Appearance of Cerealia pollen at 3600–3200 cal BP suggests the first introduction of crop farming in the region, while its absence at 3200–2000 cal BP could be attributed to abandonment of farmland. The increase of Ti and Si since 1300 cal BP may be related to agricultural activity and landscape erosion. A 2-step increase in Pb concentration at 1600 and 600 cal BP suggests 2 phases of industrial pollution intensity.

Copyright © 2007 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona 


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