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Title: The evolution of the Holocene wetland landscape of the Humberhead Levels from a fossil insect perspective
Author: Whitehouse, Nicola Jane
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2000
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Palaeoentomological investigations have been carried out on a series of profiles and contexts in the Humberhead Levels (eastern England), principally from the raised mires of Thome and Hatfield Moors, and from floodplains of the rivers Tome and Idle at Rossington, near Doncaster, and Misterton Carr, Nottinghamshire. Research has attempted to elucidate the effect of peatland development on the composition of the insect fauna, with particular emphasis on Hatfield Moors, as well as investigate the transition from Quercus-Pinus forest to mire and the faunal characteristics of those forests. The study of the fossil insects, together with other palaeoecological evidence, has enabled the genesis and development of these mires to be reconstructed in some detail. However, the palaeoenvironmental record from Thome and Hatfield Moors indicate significant differences in initiation, development and rate of growth between the two sites. The research highlights the valuable palaeoecological record of the peat deposits on Hatfield Moors, which have long been ignored in favour of Thome Moors. In particular, research highlights the importance of Pirns woodland and wet heath, components reflected in the invertebrates today. The study of the floodplain deposits have enabled the research from the Moors to be placed within a regional context. Faunal successions highlight the transition from Urwald (undisturbed woodland), c. 4000 cal BC, to a largely cleared landscape by the late Roman period (c. 400 cal AD). The research has highlighted the nature and diversity of Holocene Urwald and illustrates the important habitat provided by abundant dead wood within these systems. The fossil record emphasises the contraction in range of many elements of the British Coleopterous fauna, both at a regional and national level. A total of eleven extirpated Coleóptera have been recovered, including two species of beetle previously unknown in the British Isles. The significance of these and other Urwaldrelikt species is discussed in relation to the human fragmentation of forest habitats and the decline of Pirns sylvestris L. The importance of fire as a natural agent within the landscape, within coniferous woodland and Pinus-mire and heath systems is highlighted. The dependence of some pinicolous taxa on fire habitats suggests that the decline of this habitat has had a detrimental impact on the biogeography of some species. The role of climate as a limiting factor in distribution of thermophilous species is also discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available