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    ‘Pine Decline or pine declines?’ Analysis and Interpretation of Bog-Pines from Wem Moss, Shropshire, UK

    Lageard, Jonathan GA (2023) ‘Pine Decline or pine declines?’ Analysis and Interpretation of Bog-Pines from Wem Moss, Shropshire, UK. Quaternary, 6 (1). 12.

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    Abstract

    A dendrochronological investigation was undertaken on subfossil Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) stumps following their discovery during conservation management at Wem Moss, a small (28 ha) former raised mire in Shropshire, UK. Two ring-width chronologies were constructed from 14 of the 17 trees sampled spanning 198 and 208 years, respectively. Whilst dendrochronological dating was not possible, radiocarbon assays provided an estimated age for this mire-rooting woodland of between 3015 and 2505 years cal. BCE, coinciding with the age traditionally associated with the widespread mortality of pine trees throughout much of the UK and Ireland, often referred to as the Pine Decline (ca. 4000 radiocarbon years BP). Placed in a wider geographical context, the Wem Moss pines are located within the lowland Meres and Mosses region, where previous studies on subfossil pine have demonstrated protracted declines in mire-rooting trees. These have included tree mortality significantly post-dating the Pine Decline, especially at larger peatland sites that exceed 5 km2. Such macrofossil evidence for the presence of Scots pine into the late Holocene is supported by continuous Pinus pollen representation at peatland sites in the Welsh Marches (English–Welsh border), suggesting the possible survival of native Scots pine trees in this area up to the present day. The investigation of Wem Moss bog pines and their wider geographical context highlights the incomplete and patchy nature of palaeo-vegetational records and also the need for future genetic research on living Scots pine in possible refugial areas in Britain and Ireland.

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