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Current research: Julian Alps

Palaeoecological research in the Julian Alps focuses on study sites in the Alpine valleys (Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj) and at higher altitude just below the treeline (e.g. Pokljuka plateau). In the last few years the following research was carried out: palaeoecological research of Lateglacial sediment at Lake Bled (e.g. Andrič et al. 2009; Lane et al. 2011, Andrič in Lane 2011), pedological and palynological research of soil profile at Klek mountain pasture (Andrič et al. 2011) and pollen analysis at Šijec peat bog (e.g. Goslar et al. 2005; Sjögren et al. 2007; Andrič et al. 2010).

Blejsko jezero Lake Bled)

Pollen of plants which were growing around Lake Bled at the end of the last Ice Age was discovered in 5 m long sedimentary core from a bay near Villa Bled (Andrič et al. 2009). About 14800 years ago, when the climate was getting warmer, open, mixed woodland of pine, birch and larch was growing in the vicinity of Lake Bled. With further warming about 13800 years ago more broadleaved trees (e. g. oak, lime, elm) and spruce spread. The water in the lake was warm and well-oxygenated. In the Younger Dryas (ca. 12600-11500 years ago), when the climate was colder and dryer, the landscape became more open (more forest fires and herbs) and water level in the lake decreased. Three Lateglacial layers of microscopic volcanic ash of Icelandic and Italian provenience were also discovered in Lake Bled (Lane et al. 2011). With the Holocene climatic warming about 11500 years ago forests spread and water level increased again.

Sediment younger than ca. 9300 years is missing. We are hoping that the Holocene palaeoenvironmental record is still preserved in the deepest, central part of Lake Bled, where new research is planned (ISOMEX project).


At Pokljuka plateau the vegetation development in the last few centuries was analysed (Andrič et al. 2010). Pollen analysis of 80 cm deep peat profile from Šijec peat bog revealed that in the 15th century AD, mixed forest of beech, fir, spruce and oak was growing on Pokljuka. There are also traces of agricultural and grazing activities in the area. Until the beginning of the 19th century AD the landscape became much more open, with intensive impact of farming economy on the vegetation. Forest composition has changed: due to intensive grazing and other activities associated with ironworks (forest clearance and charcoal production), beech and fir significantly declined. In the second half of the 19th and at the beginning of the 20th century AD, forest partly recovered, but farming activities continued and increased, which, together with forestry policy, promoted spruce. After 1945 agricultural economy declined. Forest re-growth in the 1970s was a consequence of forest grazing prohibition from 1958 and mixed forests, which today cover more than 70% of land are still expanding.

In January 2012 a new, ca. 7 m deep core was collected at Šijec peat bog to study vegetation development in the last 15000 years.


Klek grazing area is one of the oldest mountain pastures on Pokljuka. Numerous archaeological sites from Roman, Late Antiquity and Early Medieval periods were discovered in the area. Since no marshy areas better suitable for palynological research were found at Klek, pollen preservation in a soil profile from the wettest part of Klek was tested (Andrič et al. 2011). The results of palynological and pedological research suggest that the first traces of human activities (meadows, pastures, ruderal areas) appear rather early (after ca. 4000 BC, cereal pollen a bit later, between ca. 4800 and 500 BC). Human activities had a significant impact on the vegetation composition and presumably triggered soil erosion. These results open several questions: Why people visited /lived at this altitude (1550 m a.s.l.)? What was their impact on the vegetation and landscape? Future archaeological research and pollen analysis at study sites, more suitable for palynological research, will help us to answer to these questions.


Goslar, T., W. O. van der Knaap, S. Hicks, M. Andrič, J. Czernik, E. Goslar, S. Räsänen in H. Hyötylä. 2005. Radiocarbon dating of modern peat profiles: Pre- and post-bomb 14C variations in the construction of age-depth models. Radiocarbon 47(1): 115-134.

Sjögren P., W. O. van der Knaap, J. F. N. Leeuwen, M. Andrič in A. Grünig. 2007. The occurrence of an upper decomposed peat layer, or ˝kultureller Trockenhorizont˝, in the Alps and Jura Mountains. Mires and Peat 2: 1–14

Andrič, M., J. Massaferro, U. Eicher, B. Ammann, M. C. Leuenberger, A. Martinčič, E. Marinova in A. Brancelj, 2009. A multi-proxy Late-glacial palaeoenvironmental record from Lake Bled, Slovenia, Hydrobiologia 631: 121–141.

Andrič, M., A. Martinčič, B. Štular, F. Petek, in T. Goslar. 2010. Land-use changes in the Alps (Slovenia) in the fifteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries AD: A comparative study of the pollen record and historical data. The Holocene 20(7): 1023–1037. Lane, C., M. Andrič, V. L. Cullen in S. P. E. Blockley 2011. The occurrence of distal Icelandic and Italian tephra in the Lateglacial of Lake Bled, Slovenia. Quaternary Science Reviews 30, 1013–1018.

Andrič, M., N. Jaecks Vidic, M. Ogrin in J. Horvat 2011. Paleoekološki podatki o človekovem vplivu ob gozdni meji na planini Klek v Julijskih Alpah, Arheološki vestnik 62, 375–392.

Andrič, M. 2011. Poznoglacialna vegetacija v okolici Blejskega jezera in Gribelj (Bela krajina): primerjava v zadnjem stadialu poledenele in nepoledenele pokrajine = Lateglacial vegetation at Lake Bled and Griblje Marsh (Slovenia): a comparison of (in last glacial maximum) glaciated and non-glaciated landscapes. V: Toškan, B. (ur.). Drobci ledenodobnega okolja. Zbornik ob življenjskem jubileju Ivana Turka / Fragments of Ice Age environments. Poceedings in honour of Ivan Turk's jubilee, Opera Instituti Archaeologici Sloveniae, 21. Ljubljana: Inštitut za arheologijo ZRC SAZU, Založba ZRC, 235–249.

Andrič, M. in C. Lane 2011, Vulkanski pepel in pelod iz Blejskega jezera, Gea 21, okt. 2011, 10–11.

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