Mire ontogeny, environmental and climate change inferred from fossil beetle successions from Hatfield Moors, eastern England

Nicola Whitehouse

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    18 Citations (Scopus)


    Results of a fossil Coleoptera (beetle) fauna from a fen edge sequence from Hatfield Moors, Humberhead Levels, are presented. Mire ontogeny inferred from this location and others are discussed, particularly in the light of previous palynological and plant macrofossil investigations. Peat initiation across most of the site centres around 3000 cal BC, characterised by a Calluna-Eriophorum heath with areas of Pinus-Betula woodland. The onset of peat accumulation on the southern margins of the site was delayed until 1520-1390 cal BC and appears to overlap closely with a recurrence surface at a pollen site (HAT 2) studied by Brian Smith (1985, 2002) dated to 1610-1440 cal BC, suggesting that increased surface wetness may have caused mire expansion at this time. The faunas illustrate the transition from eutrophic and mesotrophic fen to ombrotrophic raised mire, although the significance of both Pinus- and Calluna-indicating species through the sequence suggests that heath habitats may have continued to be important. Elsewhere, this earlier phase of rich fen is lacking and mesotrophic mire developed immediately above nutrient poor sands, with ombrotrophic conditions indicated soon after. Correspondence analysis of the faunas provides valuable insights into the importance of sandy heath habitats on Hatfield Moors. The continuing influence of the underlying coversands suggests these may have been instrumental in mire ontogeny. The research highlights the usefulness of using Coleoptera to assess mire ontogeny, fluctuations in site hydrology and vegetation cover, particularly when used in conjunction with other peatland proxies. The significance of a suite of extinct beetle species is discussed with reference to forest history and climate change.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)79-93
    Number of pages15
    JournalThe Holocene
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2004

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)

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