Early Holocene plant and animal remains from North-east Greenland

Ole Bennike, Svante Björck, Jens Böcher, Louise Hansen, Jan Heinemeier, Barbara Wohlfarth

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40 Citationer (Scopus)


Aim: The aim of this paper is to describe and interpret early Holocene floras and faunas.

Location: The floras and faunas come from various localities in North-east Greenland.

Methods: Sediment samples were wet sieved, and macrofossils picked out and dated by the AMS radiocarbon-dating method.

Results: Sediments, dated to the first centuries after the last glacial stage came to an abrupt end, contain a macroflora of bryophytes and a few herbs, and we suggest that these plant remains represent a pioneer vegetation entirely without woody plants. The named species of herbs are either confined to the northern parts of Greenland at present, or they become increasingly more important towards the north. Crowberry is the oldest woody plant recovered; it was present at 10.4 cal. ka BP, and it appears to have been common during the early Holocene in East Greenland.

Main conclusions: We suggest that the majority of the extant flora of vascular plants of East Greenland arrived by long distance dispersal during the Holocene. Some species may also have arrived during the late-glacial, and a few hardy species that are adapted to low summer temperatures may have survived the last glacial stage in nonglaciated areas. Some hardy animals may also have survived, but the majority of the fauna are considered Holocene immigrants. We suggest that migrating birds and storms, perhaps in combination, are under-appreciated dispersal vectors.

Sider (fra-til)667-677
Antal sider11
TidsskriftJournal of Biogeography
Udgave nummer3
StatusUdgivet - maj 1999


  • Programområde 5: Natur og klima


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