Landscape changes and the vertebrate fauna in Sweden during the last 150 years
Bijdragen tot de dierkunde , Volume 31 - Issue 1 p. 27- 44
The Swedish countryside at the beginning of the nineteenth century was still so varied and rich that there was room for both human beings and animals almost everywhere. It is true that for thousands of years man had struggled with the advancing forests. First the primaeval deciduous forest was cleared during the warm period following the last glaciation, and after the great climatic change at the close of the Swedish Bronze Age (ca 700 B.C.) the struggle was against the encroaching spruce on practically all fronts. The struggle resulted in culture steppes, pine heaths, birch groves and wooded meadows. All these types of landscape were gradually filled with the fauna adapted to them. Different types of cultivation have alternated, and as the nature has changed, the fauna has adapted itself. But up to the nineteenth century these changes were not so great that they altered the general picture of the animal world. Imagine Sweden a century and a half ago! Spruce forests dominated then as now, but they were less uniform; they had kept their individuality and character. Wooded meadows were numerous, for the regular leaf harvest that created them was of great importance in the former agrarian economy. In that way the spruce was kept at bay and the wooded meadows could develop freely, and there the farmers could collect leaves for winter fodder. The young Swedish soil was then still virgin. Thousands of lakes, marshes and fens, the inheritage of the great ice-cap, filled the countryside. Through the country ran the glittering silver bands of streams and brooks. In spring they widened and at times the water flooded the meadows. As summer approached, the low-lying alluvial fields of sedge, horsetail and rush were transformed by the sun into natural meadows, which were mown yearly to make use of everything that could serve as fodder for the livestock during the coming winter.
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Curry-Lindahl, K. (1961). Landscape changes and the vertebrate fauna in Sweden during the last 150 years. Bijdragen tot de dierkunde, 31(1), 27–44.