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A survey of modern pollen and vegetation along a south–north transect in Mongolia

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Abstract Aim 

This modern pollen-rain study documents the spatial and quantitative relationships between modern pollen and vegetation in Mongolia, and explores the potential for using this relationship in palaeoclimatic reconstructions. Location 

East-central Mongolia. Methods 

We collected 104 pollen surface samples along a south–north transect across five vegetation zones in Mongolia. Discriminant analysis was used to classify the modern pollen spectra into five pollen assemblages corresponding to the five vegetation zones. Hierarchical cluster analysis was used to divide the main pollen taxa into two major groups and seven subgroups representing the dry and moist vegetation types and the main vegetation communities within them. Results 

Each vegetation zone along the transect can be characterized by a distinctive modern pollen assemblage as follows: (1) desert zone: Chenopodiaceae–Zygophyllaceae–Nitraria–Poaceae pollen assemblage; (2) desert-steppe zone: Poaceae–Chenopodiaceae pollen assemblage; (3) steppe zone: ArtemisiaAster-type–Poaceae–Pinus Haploxylon-type pollen assemblage; (4) forest-steppe zone: Pinus Haploxylon-type–PiceaArtemisiaBetula, montane forb/shrub and pteridophyte pollen assemblage; and (5) mountain taiga zone: Pinus Haploxylon-type–Picea–Poaceae–Cyperaceae, montane forb/shrub and Pteridophyte pollen assemblage. Main conclusions 

Based on the ratio between the major pollen taxon groups and subgroups, we propose two pollen–climate indices that represent the precipitation and temperature conditions in the study region. When plotted along our south–north transect, the moisture indices (M) and temperature indices (T) mimic the regional gradients of precipitation and temperature across Mongolia very closely. These pollen–climate indices can be used for palaeoclimatic reconstruction based on fossil pollen data.

Keywords: Cluster analysis; Mongolia; discriminant analysis; environmental gradient; modern pollen rain; ordination; palynology; pollen surface samples; pollen–climate indices; vegetation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Academy of Disaster Reduction and Emergency Management, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China 2: MOE Key Laboratory of Western Environmental Systems, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, Gansu, China

Publication date: August 1, 2008


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