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Selection: Birks:HJB [18 articles] 

Publications by author Birks:HJB.

Stay or go - How topographic complexity influences alpine plant population and community responses to climate change

Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics (November 2017),


In the face of climate change, populations have two survival options − they can remain in situ and tolerate the new climatic conditions (“stay”), or they can move to track their climatic niches (“go”). For sessile and small-stature organisms like alpine plants, staying requires broad climatic tolerances, realized niche shifts due to changing biotic interactions, acclimation through plasticity, or rapid genetic adaptation. Going, in contrast, requires good dispersal and colonization capacities. Neither the magnitude of climate change experienced locally nor the ...


Charcoal as a fire proxy

In Tracking Environmental Change Using Lake Sediments: Terrestrial, Algal, and Siliceous Indicators, Vol. 3 (2001), pp. 75-97,


[Excerpt: Summary] Charcoal particles preserved in lake sediments provide a means of reconstructing fire history beyond documentary and dendrochrological records. Recent refinements in charcoal analysis and interpretation have greatly improved our ability to use charcoal records as proxy of past fire events and to calculate long-term variations in fire frequency. Standardization has also facilitated synthesis of different researchers’ data. Interpretating charcoal records in terms of the fire location, size, and intensity requires an understanding of the processes that influence charcoal production, transport, and deposition. Studies of charcoal deposition following ...


European tree dynamics and invasions during the Quaternary

In Introduced tree species in European forests: opportunities and challenges (2016), pp. 22-43


The abundance and distribution of terrestrial organisms vary in space and time over a wide range of scales from a single 25x25 m plot to whole continents and from days to millennia. Trees are no exception but the relevant temporal and spatial scales are naturally different from those for a small annual forest herb because of the long life-span and large size of trees. [Excerpt: Introduction] European trees have varied in their abundance and geographical distribution over the last 5 million years or more in ...


  1. Allen, J.R.M., Huntley, B., 2009. Last interglacial palaeovegetation, palaeoenvironments and chronology: a new record from Lago Grande di Monticchio, southern Italy. Quaternary Science Reviews 28, 1521-1538.
  2. Bennett, K.D., 1983. Post-glacial population expansion of forest trees in Norfolk, UK. Nature 303, 164-167.
  3. Bennett, K.D., 1986. The rate of spread and population increase of forest trees during the Postglacial. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B-Biological Sciences 314, 523-531.

Glacial legacies on interglacial vegetation at the Pliocene-Pleistocene transition in NE Asia

Nature Communications, Vol. 7 (24 June 2016), 11967,


Broad-scale climate control of vegetation is widely assumed. Vegetation-climate lags are generally thought to have lasted no more than a few centuries. Here our palaeoecological study challenges this concept over glacial–interglacial timescales. Through multivariate analyses of pollen assemblages from Lake El’gygytgyn, Russian Far East and other data we show that interglacial vegetation during the Plio-Pleistocene transition mainly reflects conditions of the preceding glacial instead of contemporary interglacial climate. Vegetation–climate disequilibrium may persist for several millennia, related to the combined effects of ...


European atlas of forest tree species

Keywords: bioeconomy   chorology   classification   climate   constrained-spatial-multi-frequency-analysis   data-heterogeneity   data-integration   data-uncertainty   disasters   disturbances   ecological-zones   ecology   ecosystem-services   europe   floods   forest-fires   forest-pests   forest-resources   free-software   geospatial   geospatial-semantic-array-programming   gis   gnu-bash   gnu-linux   gnu-octave   habitat-suitability   integrated-modelling   integrated-natural-resources-modelling-and-management   integration-techniques   knowledge-integration   landslides   mastrave-modelling-library   modelling-uncertainty   open-data   paleoecology   relative-distance-similarity   reproducible-research   review   science-policy-interface   science-society-interface   semantic-array-programming   semantic-constraints   semantics   semap   software-uncertainty   soil-erosion   soil-resources   species-distribution   tree-species   uncertainty   water-resources   windstorm  


[Excerpt] The European Atlas of Forest Tree Species is the first comprehensive publication of such a unique and essential environmental resource, that is, our trees. Leading scientists and forestry professionals have contributed in the many stages of the production of this atlas, through the collection of ground data on the location of tree species, elaboration of the distribution and suitability maps, production of the photographic material and compilation of the different chapters. The European Atlas of Forest Tree Species is both ...


The late Quaternary dynamics of pines in Europe

In Ecology and Biogeography of Pinus (1998), pp. 107-121
Keywords: europe   late-quaternary   pinus-spp  

Holocene Isochrone Maps and Patterns of Tree-Spreading in the British Isles

Journal of Biogeography, Vol. 16, No. 6. (1989), pp. 503-540
Keywords: isochrone   maps   paleoecology   plant-species   pollen  


Isochrone maps for Betula L., Corylus avellana L., Ulmus L., Pinus sylvestris L., Alnus glutinosa (L.) Gaertn., Tilia L., Fraxinus excelsior L. and Fagus sylvatica L. in the Holocene of the British Isles, constructed from 135 radiocarbon-dated pollen diagrams, provide a basis for studying the patterns of tree spread. They highlight the strongly individualistic behaviour of each taxon in its arrival areas, directions, timings, rates of spread, and attainment of broad-scale range limits. The biological processes that enable forest trees to ...


Pollen-based quantitative reconstructions of Holocene regional vegetation cover (plant-functional types and land-cover types) in Europe suitable for climate modelling

Global Change Biology, Vol. 21, No. 2. (1 February 2015), pp. 676-697,


We present quantitative reconstructions of regional vegetation cover in north-western Europe, western Europe north of the Alps, and eastern Europe for five time windows in the Holocene [around 6k, 3k, 0.5k, 0.2k, and 0.05k calendar years before present (bp)] at a 1° × 1° spatial scale with the objective of producing vegetation descriptions suitable for climate modelling. The REVEALS model was applied on 636 pollen records from lakes and bogs to reconstruct the past cover of 25 plant taxa grouped into 10 plant-functional ...


Quaternary Palaeoecology

(1980), 289
Keywords: paleoecology   quaternary  


Quaternary Palaeoecology, first published in 1980, discusses the methods and approaches by which Quaternary environments can be reconstructed from the fossil and sedimentary record. This knowledge is of great value as the Quaternary was a time of rapid ecological change, culminating in the present pattern and diversity of ecosystems. It is possible not only to relate these changes to fluctuating climates but also to infer what Man's early influence may have been. The authors describe how past flora and fauna can ...



In Encyclopedia of Ecology (2008), pp. 2623-2634,
Keywords: community   ecology   paleoecology   quaternary  


Paleoecology is the ecology of the past. It is mainly concerned with reconstructing past biota, populations, communities, landscapes, environments, and ecosystems from available geological and biological (fossil) evidence. There are two major types of paleoecology: Quaternary paleoecology, concerned with the last 2.8 million years of Earth’s history, and deep-time palaeoecology, based on fossils from pre-Quaternary sediments over a wide range of timescales. The major philosophical concepts in paleoecology are simplicity, the method of multiple working hypotheses, and methodological uniformitarianism. There is ...


Handbook of holocene palaeoecology and palaeohydrology

Vol. 3 (1986)
edited by B. E. Berglund


A masterly compendium on the study of water sediment movement in the past, this handbook encompasses the palaeohydrology of the temperature zone over the last 15,000 years. The book begins with the theoretical background to environment change, examining relationships between physical and biological environments and how they are affected by changes in climate, hydrology and human impact. Then, the material focuses on the research strategy applied to palaeoecological studies of lakes and mires. The final section discusses the numerical treatment of ...


The Rise and Fall of Forests

Science, Vol. 305, No. 5683. (23 July 2004), pp. 484-485,


After a catastrophic disturbance to an ecosystem, there is an initial period of ecosystem buildup, eventually followed (in the absence of another major disturbance) by a decline phase during which ecosystem productivity and plant biomass decrease. In their Perspective, Birks and Birks discuss a recent chronosequence analysis of six types of forest ecosystem that demonstrates how changes in soil composition contribute to ecosystem decline during interglacial periods ( Wardle et al.). ...


Mind the gap: how open were European primeval forests?

Trends in Ecology & Evolution, Vol. 20, No. 4. (April 2005), pp. 154-156,


There are two competing hypotheses about the structure and dynamics of primeval forests in lowland Europe: the high-forest and the wood-pasture hypotheses, both of which influence current European forest conservation policies. In a recent study using pollen-analytical data from across lowland Europe, Mitchell provides support for rejecting the wood-pasture hypothesis. His study is important for future forest management planning and for showing how hypotheses about large herbivores as biotic factors can be tested using palaeoecological data. ...


The mid-Holocene Ulmus fall at Diss Mere, South-East England - disease and human impact?

Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, Vol. 2, No. 2. (1993), pp. 61-68,
Keywords: disease   england   human-impact   mid-holocene   ulmus  


There are five major hypotheses to explain the apparently synchronous, widespread, spectacular, specific, and sudden elm decline in north-west Europe — climatic change, soil change, competition, human impact, and pathogenic attack. The first four hypotheses predict slow declines (ca. 50–250 years), whereas the pathogen hypothesis predicts a rapid decline (ca. 10–20 years). Pollen analyses of annually laminated sediments from Diss Mere across the elm fall show that the Ulmus decline occurred within 7 years but that there was human impact in ...


Quaternary palaeoecology and vegetation science - current contributions and possible future developments

Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, Vol. 79, No. 1-2. (October 1993), pp. 153-177,
Keywords: paleoecology   quaternary   vegetation  


Quaternary palaeoecology and vegetation science seem to have little in common today, despite similar aims and interests. Both subjects have much to contribute to each other. Three contributions of vegetation science to Quaternary palaeoecology are discussed: (1) the ecological interpretation of fossil assemblages using the plant-sociological literature, (2) the numerical arrangement of stratigraphical pollen diagrams to produce “structured” pollen diagrams, and (3) the use of ecological indicator values to reconstruct past environments from local-scale pollen-stratigraphical data. Three contributions of Quaternary palaeoecology ...


What Is Natural? The Need for a Long-Term Perspective in Biodiversity Conservation

Science, Vol. 314, No. 5803. (24 November 2006), pp. 1261-1265,


Ecosystems change in response to factors such as climate variability, invasions, and wildfires. Most records used to assess such change are based on short-term ecological data or satellite imagery spanning only a few decades. In many instances it is impossible to disentangle natural variability from other, potentially significant trends in these records, partly because of their short time scale. We summarize recent studies that show how paleoecological records can be used to provide a longer temporal perspective to address specific conservation ...


An Atlas of Past and Present Pollen Maps for Europe, 0-13,000 Years Ago



The present work is a palynological study presenting the synthesis of available pollen-analytical data for the European Late-Glacial and Holocene, and demonstrating the palaeo-ecological value of isopoll mapping of many pollen types at a broad geographical scale. The included maps are concerned with the frequencies of pollen of all the major European trees and shrubs and of many of the important dwarf-shrubs and herbs at 500- or 1000-year intervals. They are shown to provide a number of possible applications in formulating ...


Revisiting tree-migration rates: Abies alba (Mill.), a case study

Vegetation History and Archaeobotany In Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, Vol. 23, No. 2. (2014), pp. 113-122,


At northern temperate latitudes trees have adjusted their ranges substantially in response to changing climates during the Holocene. Results from dispersal model simulations suggest that postglacial migration rates may have been over-estimated from fossil pollen data. As a contribution to this debate, we infer the migration rates of Abies alba (Mill.), silver fir, as a case-study species, by using a spatially explicit approach based on fossil pollen but taking into account its modern genetic diversity pattern. Maximum estimates of migration rates ...

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