Abstract: Understanding ecosystem resilience requires long data series provided by palaeoecological studies, the best tool for reconstructing vegetation dynamics. Here, we analyzed a continuous and well-dated record of pollen, non-pollen palynomorphs, macrocharcoal remains, loss-on-ignition and magnetic susceptibility from one of the most singular peatlands in the Toledo Mountains (central Spain), in order to delineate the anthropogenic and/or climate impact on the peatland and the ecosystem?s response. La Ventilla mire is an isolated site of birch woodland dominated by Betula pubescens subsp. celtiberica (Rothm. & Vasc.) Rivas Mart. This mire, acting as a refugium for this species, is located in Cabañeros National Park and is recognized as ?Special Area of Conservation? according to Habitats Directive of the Natura 2000 network. We describe major patterns and trends in the development of this palaeorefugium since the mid-Holocene (? 6145 cal BP) and provide historical context for some natural and/or human-induced dynamics. Around 1500 cal BP, the lotic depositional environment with slow moving backwaters developed into a minerotrophic mire. Until the Middle Ages, macroclimate and autogenic succession appear to have been the main drivers of both local and regional development of vegetation. Between 1500 and 500 cal BP, an abrupt decline in birch cover started, coincident with the Visigothic period. The pronounced peaks in the coprophilous fungi record ca. 1000 and 150 cal BP reflect extensive pastoral activities in the area. This study shows how palaeoecological knowledge helps to explain present patterns in the composition of a valuable protected site, which may be used in prioritizing conservation.
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