Relationships between surface pollen and vegetation in the Meiling Mountains, southeast China : an aid to reconstruct past vegetation dynamics

Fang, Yiman

October 2018

Thesis or dissertation

© 2018 Yiman Fang. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

Understanding the relationships between modern pollen deposits and their surrounding vegetation is an important tool to improve the quality of reconstructions and interpretations of past vegetation changes from fossil pollen records. The overall aim of this research project is to validate and calibrate mathematical models of relationships for assemblages deposited in peatland and forest landscapes in southeast China, which will form an essential basis for quantitative reconstruction of past land cover from Quaternary peat deposits in the region. This field study area presents great challenges, being spatially large in extent compared to studies in northwestern Europe and of difficult and inaccessible mountainous terrain, which makes the vegetation survey (10m-100m) time-consuming.

Firstly, a study to decide whether to use moss or soil surface samples is presented. 42 paired moss and soils sample were collected in the five main forest types. Similar levels of variation in the pollen spectra are seen, but there are systematic differences in the mean values of key groups of taxa. Moss polsters are chosen since they record the most accurate representation of the contemporary vegetation.

Secondly, the behaviour of several pollen dispersal and deposition models is tested against a grassland-forest transect. The Prentice-Sugita model passed the test and is therefore considered suitable for use.

Thirdly, the first estimates of relative pollen productivity (RPP) for 9 key taxa (Castanea, Cryptomeria, Cyclobalanopsis, Liquidambar, Pinus, Poaceae, Quercus, Rosaceae and Theaceae) are presented. Two alternative methods (modified Davis method and iteration method) for estimating RPP are also developed, which have great potential for use in wider areas.

Fourthly, wetland herb taxa are important in the pollen spectra from mire records, therefore surface samples were taken from a mire surface. They show that there are inter-annual differences in pollen from wetland herbs.

Finally, the discussion presents suggestions for how these findings can be best applied to land-cover reconstruction, explores the strengths and limitations of the study and identifies future directions which such work could take.

School of Environmental Sciences, The University of Hull
Bunting, M. Jane; Blackford, Jeffrey J.; Bird, Anna
Sponsor (Organisation)
China Scholarship Council; Royal Geographical Society (Great Britain); National Key Research and Development Program; Guo jia zi ran ke xue ji jin wei yuan hui (China); University of Hull
Grant number
China Scholarship Council (Grant number 201506190128); Dudley Stamp Memorial Award from Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), UK (Grants DSMA 25/16); National Key Research and Development Program (2016YFA0600501); National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC, Grants 41671196)
Qualification level
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