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On the debate of vegetation openness of primeval north-western Europe

Verweij, K.F. (2009) On the debate of vegetation openness of primeval north-western Europe. Bachelor's Thesis, Biology.

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Since a few years a debate has been going on over what the primeval vegetation structure of north-western Europe looked like. From the beginning of the Holocene to the start of large agricultural activities the influence of humans on the structure vegetation was minimal compared to today. The question is whether without this influence by humans, would the landscape consist of closed canopy forest or would it be of a more open structure. Frans Vera has theorized that under influence of large grazers the landscape was of a half-open and dynamic structure. Many researchers, mainly paleoecologists, have called this to question however and used a wide variety of studies to get the answers. Studies on mechanisms and processes that are at work in forest ecosystems are important in furthering the debate since they can tell us how half-open landscapes. Today’s equivalent of Vera’s half-open landscape are which consist of alternating grasslands and groves, small groups of trees. Abiotic disturbances such as wind, floods and fire are some that have been known to influence forest structure. Biotic disturbances, such as grazers are also important since they have been shown to retard the rejuvenation of trees. Tree seedlings can however be protected by the process of associational resistance. Since grazing intensity is controllable by men, we can influence today’s nature reserves naturally. But recreating past conditions is not always possible due to the fact that past plant and animal species are extinct. Furthermore grazing intensity by large grazers of the past is difficult to assess. At present the debate is still ongoing, and new insights are needed to resolve it.

Item Type: Thesis (Bachelor's Thesis)
Degree programme: Biology
Thesis type: Bachelor's Thesis
Language: English
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 07:29
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2018 07:29

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