Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 365–374 | Cite as

Effect of vegetation data collection strategies on estimates of relevant source area of pollen (RSAP) and relative pollen productivity estimates (relative PPE) for non-arboreal taxa

  • M. Jane BuntingEmail author
  • Kari Loe Hjelle
Original Article


Thirteen surface moss samples were collected for pollen analysis from an area of heathland in western Norway. Vegetation composition at different distances around the sampling locations was measured using three different survey methods; rooted frequency within a sub-divided 1 m × 1 m quadrat, visual estimates of cover within a 1 m × 1 m quadrat and a modified form of the ‘circle-walking method’. Extended R-value analysis was used to explore the pollen–vegetation relationships for five main taxa, Calluna vulgaris, Vaccinium-type, Cyperaceae, Poaceae and Potentilla-type. The estimates of relevant source area of pollen obtained were similar regardless of the vegetation survey method. Values obtained were always under 4 m. However, estimates of relative pollen productivity and the background pollen component (proportion of pollen coming from vegetation growing beyond the relevant source area of pollen) differ markedly depending on the method of vegetation survey chosen. This has important implications for the quantitative reconstruction of past vegetation cover.


Extended R-value model Heathland Pollen analysis Pollen productivity Source area Vegetation survey 



This paper is a contribution to the work of the PolLandCal network co-ordinated by Marie-José Gaillard. We would like to thank all members of the network for interesting discussions over the last 6 years, especially Anna Broström for practical demonstrations of field methods, and Shinya Sugita for access to ERV model code (used in PolERV). Anne Birgitte Nielsen and Ralph Fyfe are thanked for valuable comments to the manuscript. Travel to Norway for fieldwork was funded by a Leverhulme Personal Grant (RF&G/2/RFG/2001/0132) to MJB and the research has been supported by the Melzer Foundation, UiB to KLH. Mons Kvamme and Dag Olav Øvstedal gave access to unpublished vegetation maps and Gidske L. Andersen compiled the maps. Lene S. Halvorsen and Ingvild K. Mehl provided cheerful field assistance, Beate Helle assisted with figures and Jan Berge prepared the pollen samples. The paper is dedicated to Sheila Hicks in appreciation of many discussions of pollen production in northern landscapes, and of her sterling example of the scientific and personal value of getting started with small scale empirical study of an interesting research question rather than waiting for full-scale funding.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of HullHullUK
  2. 2.The Natural History CollectionsUniversity of BergenBergenNorway

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