EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Holocene human-environment interactions and their link to erosion in the Eastern Alps, inferred from sedaDNA

Marina A. Morlock1, Saúl Rodriguez-Martinez1, Doreen Yu-Tuan Huang1, Nicole Glaus2, Hendrik Vogel2, Flavio S. Anselmetti2, and Jonatan Klaminder1
Marina A. Morlock et al.
  • 1Umeå Universiy, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Umeå, Sweden (
  • 2Institute of Geological Sciences and Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Switzerland

Mountain ecosystems are particularly sensitive to soil erosion and it is critical to better understand how climate and human activities can be linked to erosion in the alpine environment. To explore this link across time, we combine sedimentary ancient DNA (sedaDNA) analyses with erosion proxies to assess the timing and type of animal husbandry in the Eastern Alps and its impact on hill-slope processes and vegetation. With its clear and continuous erosion history, the sediment record contained in Lake Grosssee, Switzerland, is ideally suited to resolve key stages in ecosystem change and anthropogenic land use since the last glaciation. Initial results show that sedaDNA can successfully detect key species in today’s ecosystem and suggest significant changes in mammal and plant diversity across the Holocene. DNA of domestic animals such as cattle and sheep has been the dominant in the past 4,000 years BP, which coincides with frequent and intensive erosion events in this period. Our record promises a detailed history of anthropogenic activities and terrestrial ecosystem change across the Holocene, which will help to determine how erosion, land use, and climate shape alpine ecosystems through time.

How to cite: Morlock, M. A., Rodriguez-Martinez, S., Huang, D. Y.-T., Glaus, N., Vogel, H., Anselmetti, F. S., and Klaminder, J.: Holocene human-environment interactions and their link to erosion in the Eastern Alps, inferred from sedaDNA, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14979,, 2021.

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