ISSN 1067-4136, Russian Journal of Ecology, 2006, Vol. 37, No. 2, pp. 73–78. © Pleiades Publishing, Inc., 2006.
Original Russian Text © N.V. Blagoveshchenskaya, 2006, published in Ekologiya, 2006, No. 2, pp. 83–88.
The Volga Upland, a well-deﬁned geomorphologi-
cal region of the Russian Plain, is located in eastern
Europe in the middle reaches of the Volga River and
covers the southernmost part of Tatarstan, eastern
regions of Mordovia, Ulyanovsk oblast, eastern regions
of Penza oblast, and northern part of Saratov oblast. Its
distinctive topographic feature is that it has two plana-
tion surfaces: the upper plateau (280–320 m a.s.l.)
appeared in the Miocene, and the lower plateau (180–
240 m a.s.l.) dates from the Pliocene (Dedkov, 1978).
The recent plant cover has been largely transformed
under the effect of economic and industrial activities.
Published data on the development of plant cover on
the Volga Upland in the Holocene are incomplete and
not abundant (Dokturovskii, 1925; Chiguryaeva, 1941;
P’yavchenko, 1948, 1958; Semenova-Tyan-Shanskaya,
1957; Shalandina, 1993; Smirnova and Turubanova,
2002). Because of the absence of relevant radiocarbon
data, the age of main stages in the history of vegetation
proved to be strongly overestimated (Blagoveshchen-
skaya, 1985), and poor knowledge of the paleogeogra-
phy of this region resulted in the advancement of differ-
ent and often contradictory concepts concerning the
character of primary (preagricultural) vegetation.
The results of my studies on the stratigraphy of peat
deposits (Blagoveshchenskaya, 1998), the history of
vegetation in different localities (Blagoveshchenskaya,
1985, 1987, 1999, 2001), correction factors for the pol-
len of main tree species (Blagoveshchenskaya, 1995),
and radiocarbon dating of Holocene sections allowed
me to reconstruct in detail the formation of vegetation
in this region. Analysis was performed separately for
the upper plateau (the central and western parts) and the
lower plateau (the eastern and southern parts) of the
This paper is devoted to the history of plant cover in
forest regions of the upper plateau. It was reconstructed
on the basis of studies on 16 Holocene sections. The
composition of average palynological assemblages is
presented in the table and ﬁgure. Methods for analyzing
these assemblages were described by many authors
(P’yavchenko, 1950; Sladkov, 1967; Elina, 1981). Data
were interpreted taking into account both local and
regional features of palynological spectra and assem-
blages (Khotinskii, 1977).
Allerod (AL) (12–11 ka).
Open pine forests with an
admixture of birch and steppe cenoses (goosefoot,
wormwood, and goosefoot–wormwood) were distrib-
uted on the upper plateau and along ancient runoff
dells. Slopes were covered by steppes of the periglacial
type with wormwood–goosefoot communities. Thus,
the western part of the Volga Upland was under the for-
est–steppe. The climate was strongly continental.
Late Driass (DR-3) (11–10.3 ka).
The amount of
forests in the forest steppe decreased. Open pine and
pine–birch forests apparently remained only in the
ancient runoff dells. Degradation of forest vegetation
and the expansion of steppes with the prevalence of
xerophytic herbaceous communities were the conse-
quences of sharp cooling and increasing continentality
of the climate.
Preboreal time (PB) (10.3–9.5 ka).
Open pine for-
ests with an admixture of birch and wormwood–goose-
foot and grass steppes were widespread in the study
area. Willow, fern, and horsetail communities formed in
ﬂoodplains and other moist habitats.
Holocene Dynamics of Forest Ecosystems
on the Upper Plateau of the Volga Upland
N. V. Blagoveshchenskaya
Ul’yanovsk State University, nab. reki Sviyagi 40, Ul’yanovsk, 432063 Russia
Received September 10, 2004
—Main stages in the development of forest ecosystems on the upper plateau of the Volga Upland in
the Holocene have been reconstructed by analyzing palynological assemblages from peat deposits. Dominance
of the forest landscape in the region began in the Boreal time. Pine and, to a lesser extent, birch were the main
forest-forming species, whereas the role of spruce was never signiﬁcant. Broad-leaved species appeared in for-
ests in the early Atlantic time. The formation of ﬂoodplain and upland bogs began at the end of the Boreal time
and in the ﬁrst half of the Atlantic time, respectively. Signiﬁcant anthropogenic changes in the vegetation began
in the Subboreal time.
: vegetation, Holocene, palynological assemblages, radiocarbon dating, climate.