ENVIRONMENTAL AND ECOLOGICAL STUDIES

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To approach answers to these questions further data were necessary. Environmental and ecological information had to be gathered.Drs. Jennifer Moody, Oliver Rackham and Margaret Atherden conducted ecological studies. These included study of vegetation in the area and coring for pollen samples.

The valley bottom is 300 m. above sea level, making it part of the foothills of the moutain range of Xeria (Kyllene) to the west. Ringed around by ridges, the valley is well watered, with natural springs and abundant wells. Though temperatures may range over 35 C I nthe summer, it is not unusual for snow to fall and stay during the winter months. Vegetation cover in the study area is a mixture of maquis, garrigue and steppe growing over marl and limestone. These include prickly oak (Quercus coccifera), strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo). Largely absent are shrubs and trees characteristic of drier areas, such as holm oak (Quercus ilex), and there are no mountain pines. Of course most of the valley area is under cultivation and there has been a decline in pasturing of animals in recent years, which means that natural woodland is slowly increasing in some areas.
 

A pollen core taken in the neighboring Kefallari area of the Kleonai Valley produced useful set of data about changes in vegetation over at least the last 10 to 8,000 years. First an aluminum pipe was forced down through the marshy sediment.


Then the pipe was extracted and brought to the museum, where it was cut in half. The palynologist then took samples from the sediments. Each sample was divided into two: one for extracting pollen, the other to be sent for radiocarbon dating.

A pollen diagram shows the amount of different pollen from plants (grasses, trees, etc.) and helps us to understand the changes in the landscape. 

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