Mire Ecology Working Group

Department of Botany and Zoology | Masaryk University | Faculty of Science | Research Plan


Palaeoecology of West Carpathians

Grant GAČR P 504/11/0429: Environmental gradients, vegetation dynamics and landscape changes in the West Carpathians from the Late Glacial up to present times

Total duration: 2011-2015

Investigator(s): Petra Hájková (principal investigator and project administrator; macrofossil analysis, transfer functions), Eva Jamrichová (pollen analysis, connection to archaeological research), Lydie Dudová (pollen analysis), Libor Petr (pollen analysis, stratigraphy and sedimentology), Michal Horsák (malakological analysis), Michal Hájek (relationships between recent and historical vegetation, data analyses), Barbora Chattová (diatom analysis), Jana Jirouąková (macrofossil analysis), Eva Hettenbergerová (preparation of macrofossil samples, macrofossil database), Barbora Pelánková (pollen analysis), Věra Opravilová (testate amoebae analysis), Petr Pařil (chironomid analysis), Vlasta Jankovská (pollen analysis, external co-worker) and Eliąka Rybníčková (Vlasta Jankovská (pollen analysis, external co-worker).

Most of the West Carpathians lie in the Slovak Republic, where only a low number of palaeoecological studies involving pollen and macrofossil analyses have been conducted. The more data is available from polish and Czech West Carpathians, which are however smaller and more homogeneous. There are 38 dated sediment sequences reported from the Polish part of the West Carpathians, but only 15 sequences from Slovakia (most of them are located in northern mountain regions). In contrast, much new work has been done in Romania, Hungary and Poland (see the review of Buczkó et al. 2009 Hydrobiologia), but the heart of the West Carpathians lying in the Slovak Republic remains largely unexplored. It holds especially for middle altitudes on limestone, the landscape which is important biodiversity hot-spot in the West Carpathians whose history was explored only by fossil molluscs so far. Older sequences analysed by Krippel (1986) are not radiocarbon dated and use an old methodology. Thus, the main aim of our grant project is to investigate how the Holocene history of the West Carpathians of the Slovak Republic differs from that of surrounding areas, thus filling an important gap in our knowledge using modern methods and multi-proxy approaches (pollen, testate amoebae, diatoms and macrofossils of molluscs, vascular plants, bryophytes, stoneworts and chironomids). A variety of sedimentary environments are investigated (mires of different mineral richness including travertine fens, lakes and palaeo-meanders), which will contribute to a more complete image of vegetation development of the entire Slovak West Carpathians as well as habitat development of particular types of wetlands. In the first two years of ongoing project, we have sampled ca 20 palaeoecological profiles (for details see map below).

The main questions which to be answered are:
1. Did the Holocene development of the vegetation differ along the climatic gradients of continentality and altitude, and among contrasting bedrock types that differ with respect to acidity and sensitivity to cation leaching?
2. Did mesophilous deciduous trees occur in the Slovak Inner West Carpathians during the Late Glacial and if yes, what was their role in the tree migration during the Early Holocene?
3. How did human activities from the Neolithic up to present times influence the vegetation in different regions? Can an interaction between timing of prehistoric agriculture and migration of main tree species explain present diversity patterns?
4. Are observed patterns in environmental change concordant among different palaeoecological proxies?

The next aim of our project is creating the database of macrofossil records from natural sediments in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. This database uses the Arbodat platform and is prepared with the co-operation with Dr. Adéla Pokorná, the manager of Archaeobotanical database of the Czech Republic. We will insert into database all published data and data from this project. P. Hájková is database manager (buriana@sci.muni.cz) for natural deposits and everybody can contribute to the database. The data will be used in different synthetic and space analyses in future and will be at disposal also to other researchers. The unpublished data can be used only after consulting with authors of primary data.

For details see

  • Hájková P., Grootjans A., Lamentowicz M., Rybníčková E., Madarás M., Opravilová V., Michaelis D., Hájek M. & Wolejko L. (2012): How a Sphagnum fuscum-dominated bog changed into a calcareous fen: unique Holocene history of a Slovak spring-fed mire. Journal of Quaternary Science 27: 233-243.  
  • Hájková P., Horsák M. & Hájek M. (2012): Late-Glacial and Holocene history of the Western Carpathian calcareous fens. In: Calcareous mires of Slovakia; landscape setting, management and restoration prospects. Zeist : KNNV Publishing, Zeist., 2012. Pp. 13-20.  
  • Hájková P., Horsák M., Hájek M., Jankovská V., Jamrichová E. & Moutelíková J. (2015): Using multi-proxy palaeoecology to test a relict status of refugial populations of calcareous-fen species in the Western Carpathians. Holocene 25: 702-715. - fulltext in pdf 
  • Hájková P., Horsák M., Hájek M., Lacina A., Buchtová H. & Pelánková B. (2012): Origin and contrasting succession pathways of the Western Carpathian calcareous fens revealed by plant and mollusc macrofossils. Boreas 41: 690-706.  
  • Hájková P., Jamrichová E., Horsák M. & Hájek M. (2013): Holocene history of a Cladium mariscus-dominated calcareous fen in Slovakia: vegetation stability and landscape development. Preslia 85: 289-315. - fulltext in pdf 
  • Hájková P., Petr L., Horsák M., Rohovec J. & Hájek M. (2015): Interstadial inland dune slacks in south-west Slovakia: a multi-proxy vegetation and landscape reconstruction. Quaternary International 357: 314-328. - fulltext on ScienceDirect 
  • Hájková P., Roleček J., Hájek M., Horsák M., Fajmon K., Polák M. & Jamrichová E. (2011): Prehistoric origin of extremely species-rich semi-dry grasslands in the Bílé Karpaty Mts. Preslia 83: 185-204.  
  • Hájková P., ®áčková P., Dudová L. & Hájek M. (2012): Zajímavé nálezy vzácných mechorostů ve starých sedimentech. Bryonora 50: 14-16. (in Czech)  
  • Horsák M. (2011): Mollusc assemblages in palaeoecological reconstructions: an investigation of their predictive power using transfer function models. Boreas 40: 459-467.  
  • Horsák M., Hájek M., Spitale D., Hájková P., Dítě D. & Nekola J.C. (2012): The age of island-like habitats impacts habitat specialist species richness. Ecology 93: 1106-1114.  
  • Horsák M., Schenková V. & Myąák J. (2012): The second site of Pupilla alpicola (Charpentier, 1837) and the first recent record of Pupilla pratensis (Clessin, 1871) in Poland. Folia Malacologica 20: 21-26.  
  • Horsák M., Schenková V. & Páll-Gergely B. (2013): Fossil records of Marstoniopsis insubrica (Küster, 1853) suggest its wide distribution in Central Europe during the Early Holocene. Malacologia 56: 339-342.  
  • Horsák M., ©kodová J. & Cernohorsky N.H. (2011): Ecological and historical determinants of Western Carpathian populations of Pupilla alpicola (Charpentier, 1837) in relation to its present range and conservation. Journal of Molluscan Studies 77: 248-254.  
  • Jamrichová E., Hájková P., Horsák M., Rybníčková E., Lacina A. & Hájek M. (2014): Landscape history, calcareous fen development and historical events in the Slovak Eastern Carpathians. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 23: 497-513. - fulltext on SpringerLink 
  • Jamrichová E., Potůčková A., Horsák M., Hajnalová M., Barta P., Tóth P. & Kuneą P. (2014): Early occurrence of temperate oak-dominated forest in the northern part of the Little Hungarian Plain, SW Slovakia. Holocene 24: 1810-1824. - fulltext in pdf 
  • Petr L., ®áčková P., Grygar T.M, Píąková A., Kříľek M. & Treml V. (2013): ©úr, a former late-glacial and Holocene lake at the westernmost margin of the Carpathians. Preslia 85: 239-263. - fulltext in pdf 
  • Schenková V., Horsák M., Plesková Z. & Pawlikowski P. (2012): Habitat preferences and conservation of Vertigo geyeri (Gastropoda: Pulmonata) in Slovakia and Poland Journal of Molluscan Studies 78: 105-111.