Croatia's mid-Late Holocene (5200-3200 BP) coastal vegetation shaped by human societies

David Kaniewski, Nick Marriner, Christophe Morhange, Damien Rius, Marie Brigitte Carre, Sanja Faivre, Elise Van Campo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The emergence and early development of agro-pastoral activities in Mediterranean coastal areas were key drivers of ecosystem change. While the role of anthropogenic pressures is now well understood, the identification and chronology of the first human imprints on ecosystem dynamics is still an open debate in several countries, especially in the north-eastern Adriatic where there is a paucity of palaeoecological data. For the period 5200-3200 cal BP, we here report a comprehensive and integrative study of Northern Adriatic Croatia (Istrian Peninsula, Busuja Bay), showing that: (i) significant human impacts on ecosystems began around 5000 years ago, during the Chalcolithic; (ii) anthropogenic pressures (agriculture and human-induced fire) were the main drivers of long-term ecological change; (iii) local coastal shifts (higher seawater inputs in the sheltered bay) also played a decisive role in ecosystem dynamics; and (iv) climate pressures compounded human impacts. We also suggest that wild olive trees (Olea europaea subsp. europaea var. sylvestris) were an integral part of early diversified agriculture, 500 years before the Bronze Age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)334-350
Number of pages17
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
StatePublished - 15 Nov 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd


  • Agro-pastoral farming
  • Croatia
  • Eastern Europe
  • Fire regimes
  • Holocene
  • Istrian peninsula
  • Palaeogeography
  • Vegetation dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Geology


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