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Plant Focus

Quercus macdougallii
A rare oak endemic to the Sierra Juárez in Oaxaca

Did Early Human Populations in Europe Facilitate the Dispersion of Oaks?

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Antoine Kremer

Published May 2015 in International Oaks No. 26: 19–28.

Abstract

This review contends that early human populations, while invading Europe during the Upper Paleolithic or while migrating in response to postglacial warming, contributed to the dispersion of oaks. Evidence suggests that humans, while migrating along the Danube route, facilitated acorn dispersal as they transported goods that could help them survive the local harsh climate.  Some of the dispersed acorns very likely developed micro-populations, and may have finally resulted in cryptic northern populations, very far north of contemporary oak distribution. The human vector of acorn dispersal in Europe would have resulted in a scattered distribution of what we call today cryptic refugia. Such a scenario may explain why the Balkan genetic lineage is so widespread in Central and Eastern Europe (even in Western Europe) north of the Alps.

Keywords

acorn dispersal, oak migration in Europe

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