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The Elm Decline: The Depletion of a Resource

Geoffrey G. Garbett
The New Phytologist
Vol. 88, No. 3 (Jul., 1981), pp. 573-585
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the New Phytologist Trust
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2434096
Page Count: 18
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The Elm Decline: The Depletion of a Resource
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Abstract

A high-resolution pollen diagram of the elm decline at Ellerside Moss, previously studied by Oldfield and Statham (1963), was constructed by freezing the peat core and taking samples at 0.2 cm intervals using a sledge microtome. Consecutive samples were counted across the most critical part of the diagram. Ivy pollen was used as an indicator of standing dead trees, but this did not provide any evidence to support the idea that disease was a major factor contributing to the elm decline. The diagram does, however, provide evidence of leaf-fodder gathering involving elm, oak and lime during the initial stage of the elm decline followed by a period when elm only was exploited. It is argued that this resulted in a near destruction of the elm and thus initiated the partial clearance of the elm-dominated regions and later the production of small temporary clearances throughout the forest. Using the available evidence from a number of disciplines an interpretation of the cultural and economic basis of the elm decline is offered in the light of the present findings. It is seen primarily as an over-exploitation of a resource.

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