, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 161-173,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 01 Aug 2012

Transport of airborne Picea schrenkiana pollen on the northern slope of Tianshan Mountains (Xinjiang, China) and its implication for paleoenvironmental reconstruction


The understanding of airborne pollen transportation is crucial for the reconstruction of the paleoenvironment. Under favorable conditions, a considerable amount of long-distance-transported pollen can be deposited far from its place of origin. In extreme arid regions, in most cases, such situations occur and increase the difficulty to interpret fossil pollen records. In this study, three sets of Cour airborne pollen trap were installed on the northern slope of Tianshan Mountains to collect airborne Picea schrenkiana (spruce) pollen grains from July 2001 to July 2006. The results indicate that Picea pollen disperses extensively and transports widely in the lower atmosphere far away from spruce forest. The airborne Picea pollen dispersal period is mainly concentrated between mid-May and July. In desert area, weekly Picea pollen began to increase and peaked suddenly in concentration. Also, annual pollen indices do not decline even when the distance increased was probably related to the strong wind may pick up the deposited pollen grains from the topsoil into the air stream, leading to an increase of pollen concentration in the air that is irrelevant to the normal and natural course of pollen transport and deposition. This, in turn, may lead to erroneous interpretations of the pollen data in the arid region. This study provided insight into the shift in the Picea pollen season regarding climate change in arid areas. It is recorded that the pollen pollination period starts earlier and the duration became longer. The results also showed that the temperature of May and June was positively correlated with the Picea pollen production. Furthermore, the transport of airborne Picea pollen data is useful for interpreting fossil pollen records from extreme arid regions.