Geomorphologic effects of agricultural landscape change in central Europe during the high Medieval era

Authors: J. Michael Daniels*, University of Denver, Jaromir Benes, University of Southern Bohemia, Kristina Janeckova, Czech University of Life Sciences, Josef Krasa, Czech Technical University, Tomas Matys Grygar, Czech Academy of Sciences, Petr Sklenicka, Czech University of Life Sciences
Topics: Geomorphology
Keywords: Geomorphology, soils, sustainable agriculture,
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In the early 14th century CE, an episode of agricultural land-use change occurred in specific regions of contemporary Czech Republic. Forests were cleared for crop fields adjacent to newly established villages in which subsistence agriculture provided the resource base for local communities. In addition to the changes in cultural and biogeographic patterns that occurred, significant geomorphologic adjustments took place, including establishment of field boundaries, construction of rock-walls, and modification of hillslope profiles. This project documents the dramatic geomorphologic impacts that occurred throughout the region and demonstrates the effectiveness of pre-industrial societies at modifying topographic conditions. High-resolution LiDAR imagery (2m resolution) has been used to map near-surface features and identify agricultural field boundaries in both extant crop fields and afforested land. Downslope variability in soil properties has been identified using field- and laboratory-based methods. On balance, the agricultural strategies employed during this landscape transformation mitigated the most common deleterious effects of land clearance. Contemporary soil-landscape patterns clearly reflect the influence of Medieval agriculture practices. The contemporary landscape represents an example of successful soil management over multiple centuries.

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