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Numerical analysis of surface and fossil pollen spectra from northern Fennoscandia

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Abstract Aim 

Determination of the main directions of variance in an extensive data base of annual pollen deposition, and the relationship between pollen data from modified Tauber traps and palaeoecological data. Location 

Northern Finland and Norway. Methods 

Pollen analysis of annual samples from pollen traps and contiguous high-resolution samples from a peat sequence. Numerical analysis (principal components analysis) of the resulting data. Results 

The main direction of variation in the trap data is due to the vegetation region in which each trap is located. A secondary direction of variation is due to the annual variability of pollen production of some of the tree taxa, especially Betula and Pinus. This annual variability is more conspicuous in ‘absolute’ data than it is in percentage data which, at this annual resolution, becomes more random. There are systematic differences, with respect to peat-forming taxa, between pollen data from traps and pollen data from a peat profile collected over the same period of time. Main conclusions 

Annual variability in pollen production is rarely visible in fossil pollen samples because these cannot be sampled at precisely a 12-month resolution. At near-annual resolution sampling, it results in erratic percentage values which do not reflect changes in vegetation. Profiles sampled at near annual resolution are better analysed in terms of pollen accumulation rates with the realization that even these do not record changes in plant abundance but changes in pollen abundance. However, at the coarser temporal resolution common in most fossil samples it does not mask the origin of the pollen in terms of its vegetation region. Climate change may not be recognizable from pollen assemblages until the change has persisted in the same direction sufficiently long enough to alter the flowering (pollen production) pattern of the dominant trees.
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Keywords: Boreal forest; Fennoscandia; climate change; numerical analysis; pollen analysis; pollen monitoring; principal components analysis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geology, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland

Publication date: 2005-03-01

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