Morphological differentiation of Betula (birch) pollen in northwest North America and its palaeoecological application

Clegg, Benjamin F.; Tinner, Willy; Gavin, Daniel G.; Hu, Feng Sheng (2005). Morphological differentiation of Betula (birch) pollen in northwest North America and its palaeoecological application. Holocene, 15(2), pp. 229-237. Sage 10.1191/0959683605hl788rp

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Lake sediments from arcto-boreal regions commonly contain abundant Betula pollen. However, palaeoenvironmental interpretations of Betula pollen are often ambiguous because of the lack of reliable morphological features to distinguish among ecologically distinct Betula species in western North America. We measured the grain diameters and pore depths of pollen from three tree-birch species (B. papyrifera, B. kenaica and B. neoalaskana) and two shrub-birch species (B. glandulosa and B. nana), and calculated the ratio of grain diameter to pore depth (D/P ratio). No statistical difference exists in all three parameters between the shrub-birch species or between two of the tree-birch species (B. kenaica and B. papyrifera), and B. neoalaskana is intermediate between the shrub-birch and the other two tree-birch species. However, mean pore depth is significantly larger for the tree species than for the shrub species. In contrast, mean grain diameter cannot distinguish tree and shrub species. Mean D/P ratio separates tree and shrub species less clearly than pore depth, but this ratio can be used for verification. The threshold for distinguishing pollen of tree versus shrub birch lies at 2.55 μm and 8.30 for pore depth and D/P ratio, respectively. We'applied these thresholds to the analysis of Betula pollen in an Alaskan lake-sediment core spanning the past 800 years. Results show that shrub birch increased markedly at the expense of tree birch during the‘Little Ice Age’; this patten is not discernible in the profile of total birch pollen.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Palaeoecology
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)

UniBE Contributor:

Tinner, Willy

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

ISSN:

0959-6836

Publisher:

Sage

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

08 Dec 2015 14:08

Last Modified:

20 May 2016 13:07

Publisher DOI:

10.1191/0959683605hl788rp

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Betula, birch, pollen, western North America, palaeoecology, ‘Little Ice Age’, Grizzly Lake, Alaska

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.73960

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/73960

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