Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 351–364 | Cite as

Estimating absolute pollen productivity for some European Tertiary-relict taxa

  • Mariana V. Filipova-Marinova
  • Eliso V. Kvavadze
  • Simon E. ConnorEmail author
  • Per Sjögren
Original Article


Tertiary-relict plants are survivors from the pre-Quaternary periods. Today, most European Tertiary relicts are confined to small, isolated stands distributed in the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions. In the past, however, the fossil record indicates that these species were probably distributed over large parts of the European continent and may have been important constituents of the vegetation. Little is known about their pollen representation, which limits our ability to reconstruct this past vegetation with any accuracy. This paper draws on the results of pollen trapping experiments in Bulgaria and Georgia, where relict stands of Aesculus hippocastanum, Cercis siliquastrum, Fagus orientalis, Juglans regia and Pterocarya fraxinifolia are still in existence. We compared average pollen accumulation rates (PAR) to vegetation data from around the trapping locations to derive estimates of absolute pollen productivity using various pollen dispersal functions. Composite dispersal functions that model pollen components carried above the vegetation canopy and falling as rain provided better relationships between PAR and plant abundance than functions that consider only a single component or the ‘trunk-space’ component carried under the canopy. A composite dispersal function with a simple model for regional pollen and the best overall correlation statistics gave the following estimates of absolute pollen productivity (grains cm−2 yr−1 with 1 SE intervals): Carpinus betulus 19,000–28,700; Fagus orientalis 15,600–20,400; Juglans regia 27,200–36,200; Pterocarya fraxinifolia 182,000–192,600; Quercus spp. 21,700–24,800; Tilia begoniifolia 51,600–68,300; and T. tomentosa 14,700–18,200. These estimates were applied to fossil data from the Black Sea coast to reconstruct palaeovegetation using absolute and relative methods.


Pollen dispersal models Absolute pollen production Pollen traps Palaeovegetation reconstruction Georgia Bulgaria 



The authors would like to dedicate this paper to Sheila Hicks, for her vision in establishing the Pollen Monitoring Programme (PMP) and her untiring enthusiasm in guiding its development over the years. Many thanks to the local directors of the State Forestry Agency of Bulgaria for allowing us to use their forest composition data, to Shota Eriashvili for his invaluable assistance with fieldwork, to Antti Huusko for practical advice on applying Sutton’s equation, to Christoph Sperisen for helping with the map, and to Marta for her patience during vegetation surveys in Lagodekhi. We are grateful to Pim van der Knaap for his constant encouragement and to the reviewers Anne Birgitte Nielsen, Thomas Giesecke and Jane Bunting for their helpful comments on the manuscript, which is a contribution to the PMP, IGCP 521 and ARC LP0989901.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mariana V. Filipova-Marinova
    • 1
  • Eliso V. Kvavadze
    • 2
  • Simon E. Connor
    • 3
    Email author
  • Per Sjögren
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Natural HistoryVarna Regional Museum of HistoryVarnaBulgaria
  2. 2.Davitashvili Institute of PaleobiologyNational Museum of GeorgiaTbilisiGeorgia
  3. 3.Centre for Marine and Environmental ResearchFCT, University of the AlgarveFaroPortugal
  4. 4.Department of Natural SciencesTromsø University MuseumTromsøNorway

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