Original paper

Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 48, Issue 3, pp 503-516

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Relations between assemblages of carpological remains and modern vegetation in a shallow reservoir in southern Poland

  • Artur SzymczykAffiliated withDepartment of Physical Geography, Faculty of Earth Sciences, University of Silesia Email author 


This paper explores relations between assemblages of carpological remains and vegetation in and around a small, shallow reservoir in southern Poland. The study was conducted from 2006 to 2008. Quantity and distribution of species in the reservoir were recorded annually during the growing season. In October 2008, 40 samples of surface sediment (top 2 cm) were collected along transects at 10 m intervals. Samples of 100 cm3 were prepared for analysis of plant macroremains. Assemblages of carpological remains generally reflect local vegetation well. In some cases, however, even analysis of numerous samples failed to fully capture the species composition or reflect plant ratios in the parent phytocenosis. Reasons for this include factors that affect seed production, transport and fossilization, which differ among species. Among the best-represented macroremains were plants of the rush phytocenosis. In analysed samples, macroremains of 68.8 % of extant rushes were identified. Sixty percent of submerged and floating-leaf taxa were found in carpological samples, whereas 26.7 % of the trees and bushes were represented in sediment deposits. Species composition of phytocenoses in the reservoir and in surrounding areas was best reflected by macroremains from the nearby reed bed. Numbers of diaspores of Mentha aquatica, Hippuris vulgaris and Carex reflected well their relative abundance in phytocenoses. Chara sp., Juncus inflexus and Eupatorium cannabinum were overrepresented, whereas Typha latifolia and Sparganium minimum were poorly represented in relation to contemporary plant cover. There were no diaspores of Phragmites australis, which dominates the contemporary reed bed. Besides the shape of a reservoir, the key factor influencing diaspore numbers is distribution of plant cover. In many cases, single diaspores (Potentilla erecta, Myosotis scorpioides, Lythrum salicaria, Scutellaria galericulata), or higher concentrations (Hippuris vulgaris, Mentha aquatica, Eleocharis palustris, Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani, Chara sp.) reflected well the location of parent vegetation. The findings indicate that carpological remains in sediments can be an important source of information about plants in and around lakes. They generally reflect well local vegetation and in some cases may be used to identify taxa that dominated in the past.


Aquatic vegetation Carpological remains Plant macrofossils Representation in surface sediments South Poland Taphonomy