, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 243-255,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 29 Aug 2012

An objective method based on assemblages of subfossil plant macro-remains to reconstruct past natural vegetation: a case study at Swifterbant, The Netherlands


We present a new method of identifying past plant communities based on a palaeobotanical dataset. The dataset used as a case study consists of plant macro-remains retrieved from the Neolithic settlement Swifterbant S4, The Netherlands. Taxa were grouped based on their present-day concurrence values. Subsequently, phytosociological analysis was performed on the subfossil taxon groups using the software package PALAEOASSOCIA, adjusted for this type of research. Results show that syntaxonomic knowledge on the concurrence of plant species can be used to reconstruct parts of the past vegetation. We further discuss the theory behind the reconstruction of syntaxa, with special emphasis on actualism.