Mid-Late Holocene environmental change in northern Sweden: an investigation using fossil insect remains
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For the first time, Mid-Late Holocene insect fossil assemblages were studied from inland northern Sweden, producing new evidence relating to both natural environmental changes and human impacts. The insect fossil assemblages from natural deposits indicated extensive woodland with old and dead wood and a deep litter layer of decaying matter. Human impacts became apparent from the 1st millennium AD, when the landscape around many sites became more open, with elements of heath. It is difficult to determine whether these changes were driven purely by human activity, indicating subtle landscape change as a result of periodic exploitation, or if natural influences were significant in creating this landscape structure. If connected with human use, then the impacts of periodic exploitation can be seen to be subtle and localised, but notable enough to leave tell-tale signs in the insect fossil record. These relatively subtle changes in the environment can be compared with the more severe effects found during periods of historically known permanent settlement, where extensively open and disturbed habitats are suggested in the insect fossil record. Species associated with arable and pasture land are restricted to the last few hundred years, in association with settled occupation. The climate signal in the insect fossil record has been weak, and use of the Mutual Climatic Range method (MCR) has not revealed evidence of climatic fluctuations during the Late Holocene period.