Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 16, Issue 2–3, pp 87–100 | Cite as

Variability in glacial and Holocene marine pollen records offshore from west southern Africa

  • Lydie M. DupontEmail author
  • Hermann Behling
  • Susanne Jahns
  • Fabienne Marret
  • Jung-Hyun Kim
Original Article


The distribution of pollen in marine sediments is used to record vegetation changes over the past 30,000 years on the adjacent continent. A transect of marine pollen sequences from the mouth of the river Congo (∼5°S) to Walvis Bay and Lüderitz (∼25°S) shows vegetation changes in Congo, Angola and Namibia from the last glacial period into the Holocene. The comparison of pollen records from different latitudes provides information about the latitudinal shift of open forest and savannahs (Poaceae pollen), the extension of lowland forest (rain forest pollen) and Afromontane forest (Podocarpus pollen), and the position of the desert fringe (pollen of Caryophyllaceae, Chenopodiaceae and Amaranthaceae). High Cyperaceae pollen percentages in sediments from the last glacial period off the mouth of the river Congo suggest the presence of open swamps rather than savannah vegetation in the Congo Basin. Pollen from Restionaceae in combination with Stoebe-type pollen (probably from Elytropappus) indicates a possible northwards extension of winter rain vegetation during the last glacial period. The record of Rhizophora (mangrove) pollen is linked to erosion of the continental shelf and sea-level rise. Pollen influx is highest off river mouths (10–2000 grains year−1 cm−2), close to the coast (300–6000 grains year−1 cm−2), but is an order of magnitude lower at sites situated far from the continent (<10 grains year−1 cm−2).


Pollen Marine sediments Late Quaternary Southern Africa Vegetation change 



This paper is dedicated to Hans-Jürgen Beug on the occasion of his 75th birthday.

We are grateful to Shi Ning for his invaluable work on a number of GeoB sites. Data are available from the African Pollen Database <> and Pangaea <>. This study is built on a number of projects that have been financial supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung.


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Copyright information

© Springer Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lydie M. Dupont
    • 1
    Email author
  • Hermann Behling
    • 2
  • Susanne Jahns
    • 3
  • Fabienne Marret
    • 4
  • Jung-Hyun Kim
    • 5
  1. 1.Marum, GeosciencesUniversity of BremenBremenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Palynology and Climate Dynamics, Institute for Plant SciencesUniversity of GöttingenGöttingenGermany
  3. 3.Brandenburgisches Landesamt für Denkmalpflege und Archäologisches LandesmuseumZossenGermany
  4. 4.Department of GeographyUniversity of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK
  5. 5.CEFREM - CNRS UMR 5110Université de PerpignanPerpignan CedexFrance

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