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HISTORY OF MOUNTAIN PASTURES IN THE FRENCH ALPS: A NEW INSIGHT PROVIDED BY LAKE SEDIMENT DNA Charline Giguet-Covex1, Laurent Fouinat2, Ludovic Gielly3, Isabelle Jouffroi-Bapicot4, Kevin Walsh5, Florence Mocci6 1YORK UNIVERSITY, 2EDYTEM, 3LECA, 4CHRONOENVIRONNEMENT, 5UNIVERSITY OF YORK, 6CENTRE CAMILLE JULIAN In Alps, mountain peoples showed vertical mobility to develop subalpine pasturing activities since the Bronze Age and maybe earlier (Neolithic). The history of these activities is still not known in details. To address this issue we mainly use a booming tool, the DNA metabarcoding applied to lake sediments. Three lakes distributed across the French Alps were selected in order to compare livestock practices and histories in territories with different climate/environmental conditions and socio-economic contexts: Anterne (North), La Muzelle (Central) and Lauzanier (South). During the last 1500 years, results suggest pastoral activities appear around 850, 1000 and 1350 AD at Lauzanier, Anterne and La Muzelle, respectively. At Anterne, the herd was then composed of sheep and cows. From 1000 to 1200 AD, a decrease/abandonment of the activity is recorded. Activity set off later again, but only with cow, which might suggest a development of the milk/cheese trade. At La Muzelle and Anterne, a concomitant abandonment is recorded between about 1550 and 1750 AD, maybe due to the degradation of climatic conditions. There is a renewed increase in activity between 1750 AD and today at La Muzelle and until 1800 AD at Anterne. At Lauzanier, activity remained important until 1400 AD and then decreased. A stronger decrease occurred around 1970 AD. The different histories recorded are probably firstly explained by the different socio-economic contexts. However, harsher climatic conditions, especially in the northern part of the French Alps, could have also affected the livestock farming practices (abandonment of mountain pastures).
Period2 Sept 20155 Sept 2015
Event typeConference
LocationGlasgow, United KingdomShow on map


  • lake sediment DNA
  • mountain
  • agriculture