Late Glacial and early Holocene development of an oxbow lake in Central Europe (Poland) based on plant macrofossil and geochemical data

Mariusz Gałka*, Agnieszka Lewandowska, Przemysław Niedzielski, Thomas G. Sim, Graeme T. Swindles, Grzegorz Szczurek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


Sediments from an oxbow lake located in the Prosna River valley (Poland) were analysed to investigate the developmental history of the wetland ecosystem and any response to abrupt climatic changes. High resolution plant macrofossil analysis and radiocarbon dating were undertaken on two cores, with lower resolution geochemical analysis conducted on one of these cores. We provide evidence of a palaeolake with a late Glacial origin (older than 12,500 years). Abundant fossil presence of macrophytes (e.g. multiple Potamogeton species) in the studied palaeomeander may indicate that the north–south orientation of the Prosna valley made it an important route for the spreading of aquatic plants during the late Glacial. Chara sp., Batrachium sp. and Potamogeton spp. were the pioneer plants that colonised cold water with a high Ca2+ content. Early Holocene warming trigged a decrease in water level at the oxbow lake and facilitated the expansion of thermophilous water plants, for example, Ceratophyllum demersum, Typha sp. and Lemna trisulca, which usually occur in shallow water. A decreasing water level resulted in the gradual isolation of the study site from the influence of groundwater, leading to acidification of the habitat and the development of a Sphagnum population, with S. contortum and S. teres as dominant species. The presence of S. contortum (the oldest occurrence in the European lowlands) and S. teres during the early Holocene may indicate that river valleys and the peatlands that developed in this region acted as an important habitats (and possibly refugia) for some minerotrophic Sphagnum species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-189
Number of pages12
Issue number1
Early online date26 Sep 2019
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2020


  • climate change
  • peatland
  • plant macrofossils
  • plant succession
  • Prosna River
  • refugia
  • Sphagnum succession

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Archaeology
  • Ecology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Palaeontology

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