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Palaeoecological data indicates land-use changes across Europe linked to spatial heterogeneity in mortality during the Black Death pandemic

Izdebski, A. and Guzowski, P. and Poniat, R. and Masci, L. and Palli, J. and Vignola, C. and Cocozza, C. and Fernandes, R. and Ljungqvist, F. C. and Newfield, T. and Seim, A. and Abel-Schaad, D. and Alba-Sanchez, F. and Brauer, A. and Brown, A. and Czerwinski, S. and Ejarque, A. and Filoc, M. and Florenzano, A. and Fredh, E. D. and Fyfe, R. and Jasiunas, N. and Kolaczek, P. and Kouli, K. and Kozakova, R. and Kupryjanowicz, M. and Lamentowicz, M. and Lindbladh, Matts and Lopez-Saez, J. A. and Luelmo-Lautenschlaeger, R. and Marcisz, K. and Mazier, F. and Mensing, S. and Mercuri, A. M. and Milecka, K. and Miras, Y. and Noryskiewicz, A. M. and Novenko, E. and Obremska, M. and Panajiotidis, S. and Papadopoulou, M. L. and Pedziszewska, A. and Perez-Diaz, S. and Piovesan, G. and Pluskowski, A. and Pokorny, P. and Poska, A. and Reitalu, T. and Roesch, M. and Sadori, L. and Ferreira, C. Sa and Sebag, D. and Slowinski, M. and Stancikaite, M. and Stivrins, N. and Tunno, I and Veski, S. and Wacnik, A. and Masi, A. (2022). Palaeoecological data indicates land-use changes across Europe linked to spatial heterogeneity in mortality during the Black Death pandemic. Nature ecology & evolution. 6 :3 , 297-306
[Research article]

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Abstract

Historical accounts of the mortality outcomes of the Black Death plague pandemic are variable across Europe, with much higher death tolls suggested in some areas than others. Here the authors use a 'big data palaeoecology' approach to show that land use change following the pandemic was spatially variable across Europe, confirming heterogeneous responses with empirical data.The Black Death (1347-1352 ce) is the most renowned pandemic in human history, believed by many to have killed half of Europe's population. However, despite advances in ancient DNA research that conclusively identified the pandemic's causative agent (bacterium Yersinia pestis), our knowledge of the Black Death remains limited, based primarily on qualitative remarks in medieval written sources available for some areas of Western Europe. Here, we remedy this situation by applying a pioneering new approach, 'big data palaeoecology', which, starting from palynological data, evaluates the scale of the Black Death's mortality on a regional scale across Europe. We collected pollen data on landscape change from 261 radiocarbon-dated coring sites (lakes and wetlands) located across 19 modern-day European countries. We used two independent methods of analysis to evaluate whether the changes we see in the landscape at the time of the Black Death agree with the hypothesis that a large portion of the population, upwards of half, died within a few years in the 21 historical regions we studied. While we can confirm that the Black Death had a devastating impact in some regions, we found that it had negligible or no impact in others. These inter-regional differences in the Black Death's mortality across Europe demonstrate the significance of cultural, ecological, economic, societal and climatic factors that mediated the dissemination and impact of the disease. The complex interplay of these factors, along with the historical ecology of plague, should be a focus of future research on historical pandemics.

Authors/Creators:Izdebski, A. and Guzowski, P. and Poniat, R. and Masci, L. and Palli, J. and Vignola, C. and Cocozza, C. and Fernandes, R. and Ljungqvist, F. C. and Newfield, T. and Seim, A. and Abel-Schaad, D. and Alba-Sanchez, F. and Brauer, A. and Brown, A. and Czerwinski, S. and Ejarque, A. and Filoc, M. and Florenzano, A. and Fredh, E. D. and Fyfe, R. and Jasiunas, N. and Kolaczek, P. and Kouli, K. and Kozakova, R. and Kupryjanowicz, M. and Lamentowicz, M. and Lindbladh, Matts and Lopez-Saez, J. A. and Luelmo-Lautenschlaeger, R. and Marcisz, K. and Mazier, F. and Mensing, S. and Mercuri, A. M. and Milecka, K. and Miras, Y. and Noryskiewicz, A. M. and Novenko, E. and Obremska, M. and Panajiotidis, S. and Papadopoulou, M. L. and Pedziszewska, A. and Perez-Diaz, S. and Piovesan, G. and Pluskowski, A. and Pokorny, P. and Poska, A. and Reitalu, T. and Roesch, M. and Sadori, L. and Ferreira, C. Sa and Sebag, D. and Slowinski, M. and Stancikaite, M. and Stivrins, N. and Tunno, I and Veski, S. and Wacnik, A. and Masi, A.
Title:Palaeoecological data indicates land-use changes across Europe linked to spatial heterogeneity in mortality during the Black Death pandemic
Series Name/Journal:Nature ecology & evolution
Year of publishing :2022
Volume:6
Number:3
Page range:297-306
Number of Pages:10
Publisher:NATURE PORTFOLIO
ISSN:2397-334X
Language:English
Publication Type:Research article
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Copyright:Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0
Full Text Status:Public
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 1 Natural sciences > 106 Biological Sciences (Medical to be 3 and Agricultural to be 4) > Ecology
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-116286
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-116286
Additional ID:
Type of IDID
DOI10.1038/s41559-021-01652-4
Web of Science (WoS)000753786800002
ID Code:27323
Faculty:S - Faculty of Forest Sciences
Department:(S) > Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:16 Mar 2022 15:56
Metadata Last Modified:16 Mar 2022 16:01

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