The occurrence of hazel dormice on some islands in the Baltic Sea raises the question about the origin of these long isolated populations. The spread of hazel dormice from their Pleistocene shelters in southern Europe to the north was facilitated by a rapid spread of hazel during the Boreal after 10800 cal. yr BP and subsequently hazel dominated woodlands in central Europe. The immigration of the hazel dormouse from central Germany to Ruegen is not supported by findings and seems to be unlikely due to habitat fragmentation in the north-eastern German mainland. This is indicated by areas of poor sandy soils with poor pine forests besides wide and sandy river valleys and wetlands. In contrast, immigration via Denmark is rather possible considering the post-glacial development of the south-western Baltic Sea region. Especially the Darss Sill could have been used as a land bridge between south-eastern Denmark and north-eastern Germany about 9800 to 8800 cal. yr BP. A further migration of the species towards the east, e.g. to Bornholm, might be prohibited by the existence of the vast Oder River valley.
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Vol. 64 • No. 4