1 The fossil pollen record of Canada de la Cruz in the Segura mountains of
southern Spain yields insights into high-elevation vegetational dynamics ov
er the last c. 8320 years. Phases of xerophytic grassland alternate with hi
gh-mountain open pine forests and expansion of deciduous forests and Medite
rranean scrub at lower altitudes.
2 Longer-term stable vegetation patterns are interrupted by multidecadal to
century-scale shifts at about 7770, 3370, 2630, 1525 and 790 years BR
3 Some of the vegetation types have no modem analogues and represent high-a
ltitude remnants of widespread last-glacial xerophytic communities. Other s
pecies patterns, characteristic of current scrub associations, appeared onl
y within the last 800 years.
4 The sequence fits within the regional context of a generally wet mid-Holo
cene (c. 7700-3300 years BP) characterized by spread of mesophilous vegetat
ion, between drier conditions characterized by greater abundance of xerophy
5 The pollen record and current ecological studies on high-elevation vegeta
tion of Mediterranean Spain suggest that control of vegetation is primarily
climatic although grazing pressure, which would have pushed vegetation ove
r a threshold for change, cannot be discounted.