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32nd Annual Arctic Workshop Abstracts
March 14-16, 2002
INSTAAR, University of Colorado at Boulder

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THE HOLOCENE DEVELOPMENT OF THE ICELANDIC BIOTA AND ITS PALAEOCLIMATIC SIGNIFICANCE

AUTHORS

CASELDINE, CHRIS J. University of Exeter, UK.
Langdon, Pete G. University of Exeter, UK.
Dinnin, Mark H. University of Exeter, UK.
Hendon, Dawn M. University of Exeter, UK.

The Holocene development of the Icelandic biota is reviewed, with specific reference to four major proxies of environmental change (pollen, Coleoptera, testate amoebae and chironomids). Research on Holocene landscape development in Iceland has focused principally on the reconstruction of glacial histories (Stotter et al. 1999), with a rather limited examination of the biota of the country despite almost half a century of pollen-analytical studies (Hallsdottir 1995). Apart from pollen and plant macrofossils, subfossils used elsewhere as proxies for reconstructing Holocene environments have been little employed. Coleoptera have been studied from archaeological and largely post-settlement sediments (Buckland et al. 1995), but testate amoebae (Protozoa: Rhizopoda) and chironomids (non-biting midges) have yet to be examined in detail in a Holocene context. The aim of this paper is to review the past work and assess the potential contribution such proxies can make to understanding the evolution of the Icelandic landscape throughout the Holocene. Two particular issues form the context of this overview: 1) The characteristics of the biota representative of island development, particularly the origins, probable immigration routes and timing of colonisation of species, and the way they responded to forcing factors through the Holocene; and, 2) The potential value of the different records as proxies of environmental, and especially climatic change. Because of its location close to major atmospheric and oceanic boundaries understanding the terrestrial response of the biota of Iceland to change is essential in estimating the nature of past climates. The value of this record is heightened by the potential chronological control provided by the tephrochronological dating framework and the growing body of information concerning the Holocene patterns of sea-surface temperature change arising from extensive studies of offshore marine sediment records (Eiriksson et al. 2000; Andrews et al. 2001).

REFERENCES
Andrews, J.T., Caseldine, C.J., Weiner, N. and Hatton, J.M. 2001. Causes of Late Holocene (ca. 4ka) marine and terrestrial environmental change in Reykjarfjordur, N.Iceland: climate and/or settlement? Journal of Quaternary Science 16, 133-143.

Buckland, P. C., Edwards, K. J., Blackford, J., Dugmore, A. J., Sadler, J. P. and Sveinbjarnardottir, G. (1995) A question of Landnam: pollen, charcoal and insect studies on Papey, eastern Iceland pp.245-264 in Butlin, R. and Roberts, N. (eds.) Ecological Relations in Historical Times. Institute of British Geographers. Oxford: Blackwell.

Eir›ksson, J., Knudsen, K.L., Haflidason, H. and Henriksen, P. 2000. Late-glacial and Holocene palaeoceanography of the North Icelandic shelf. Journal of Quaternary Science 15, 23-42.

Hallsdottir, M. 1995. On the pre-settlement history of Icelandic vegetation. Buvisindi 9, 17-29.

Stotter, J., Wastl, M., Caseldine, C.J. and Haberle, T. 1999. Holocene Palaeoclimatic reconstruction in Northern Iceland: approaches and results. Quaternary Science Reviews 18, 457-474.



 

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