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Steppes, savannahs, forests and phytodiversity reservoirs during the Pleistocene in the Iberian Peninsula

Abstract : A palaeobotanical analysis of the Pleistocene floras and vegetation in the Iberian Peninsula shows the existence of patched landscapes with Pinus woodlands, deciduous and mixed forests, parklands (savannah-like), shrublands, steppes and grasslands. Extinctions of Arctotertiary woody taxa are recorded during the Early and Middle Pleistocene, but glacial refugia facilitated the survival of a number of temperate, Mediterranean and Ibero-North African woody angiosperms. The responses of Iberian vegetation to climatic changes during the Pleistocene have been spatially and temporarily complex, including rapid changes of vegetation in parallel to orbital and suborbital variability, and situations of multi-centennial resilience or accommodation to climatic changes. Regional characteristics emerged as soon as for the Middle Pleistocene, if not earlier: Ericaceae in the Atlantic coast indicating wetter climate, thermo-mediterranean elements in the south as currently, and broad-leaf trees in the northeastern. Overall, steppe landscapes and open Pinus woodlands prevailed over many continental regions during the cold spells of the Late Pleistocene. The maintenance of a high phytodiversity during the glacials was linked to several refuge zones in the coastal shelves of the Mediterranean and intramountainous valleys. Northern Iberia, especially on coastal areas, was also patched with populations of tree species, and this is not only documented by palaeobotanical data (pollen and charcoal) but also postulated by phylogeographical models.
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Penélope González-Sampériz, Suzanne A.G. Leroy, José S. Carrión, Santiago Fernández, Mercedes García-Antón, et al.. Steppes, savannahs, forests and phytodiversity reservoirs during the Pleistocene in the Iberian Peninsula. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, Elsevier, 2010, 162 (3), pp.427-457. ⟨10.1016/j.revpalbo.2010.03.009⟩. ⟨hal-03248795⟩



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