EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Disentangling human-fire-climate linkages at mid-elevations in the Šumava Mountains of central Europe

Vachel Kraklow1, Alice Moravcová1, Petr Kuneš1, Dagmar Dreslerová2, Walter Finsinger3, Andrei-Cosmin Diaconu4, Daniel Nývlt5, Martin Kadlec5, Willy Tinner6, Marco Heurich7, and Gabriela Florescu
Vachel Kraklow et al.
  • 1Charles University, Botany, Prague, Czechia (,,,
  • 2Institute of Archaeology, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, Czechia (
  • 3ISEM, University Montpellier, CNRS, EPHE, IRD, Montpellier, France (
  • 4Department of Geology, Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania (
  • 5Department of Geography, Faculty of Science, Masaryk University, Brno, Czechia (,
  • 6Institute of Plant Science and Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Switzerland (
  • 7Department of Visitor Management and National Park Monitoring, Bavarian Forest National Park, Grafenau, Germany (

To distinguish human-caused from naturally-caused fire regimes, palaeoecological records must demonstrate that observed changes in vegetation and fire are in response to changes in human activity rather than driven by natural climate-fire relationships. Here, we use a high-resolution multi-proxy approach (testate amoebae derived depth to water table (DWT), macro- and micro-charcoal, charcoal morphologies, pollen, non-pollen palynomorphs, plant macrofossils, and XRF) from Pékna, a mid-elevation peat bog situated near Lipno Reservoir - an area rich in human land use - to investigate human-driven vs. naturally-driven fire regimes in the Šumava Mountains. Our results span the entire Holocene and illustrate that humans have been consistently modifying the landscape since 5,500 cal yr BP. Specifically, during the mid-Holocene (7,000 – 4,000 cal yr BP) when water table was at its highest at Pékna, relatively frequent, low-severity fires occurred and was accompanied by the prolonged presence of coprophilous fungi, secondary human indicators and an opening of the forest, suggesting human activities. Human land use intensified ~1,500 cal yr BP as indicated by increases in primary human indicator species, an increase in early successional tree species (Pinus and Betula) indicating an opening of the forest canopy, and the development of regional mining is suggested by a marked increase in the concentration of lead (Pb). While water table depths decreased indicating drier conditions ~1,500 cal yr BP, local fires persisted, burning at low severities as indicated by the continued presence of charred herb macrofossils. The most intensive land use occurred in the last 500 years with the highest abundance of primary and secondary human indicator species, and coprophilious fungi. Locally, marked increases in the concentration of both redox-sensitive elements such as iron (Fe), calcium (Ca), sulphur (S), and chlorine (Cl), and detrital elements such as potassium (K), aluminum (Al) and Titanium (Ti) indicate major changes in the depositional environment over the last 500 years, possibly due to peat draining. However, this time period witnessed decreased biomass burning as a result of a more open landscape and less fuels to burn. These results contribute to a growing body of literature illustrating the importance of prehistoric impact in the mid-mountains of Central Europe.   

How to cite: Kraklow, V., Moravcová, A., Kuneš, P., Dreslerová, D., Finsinger, W., Diaconu, A.-C., Nývlt, D., Kadlec, M., Tinner, W., Heurich, M., and Florescu, G.: Disentangling human-fire-climate linkages at mid-elevations in the Šumava Mountains of central Europe, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12821,, 2021.

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