Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 25, Issue 6, pp 541–553 | Cite as

A matter of dispersal: REVEALSinR introduces state-of-the-art dispersal models to quantitative vegetation reconstruction

  • Martin TheuerkaufEmail author
  • John Couwenberg
  • Anna Kuparinen
  • Volkmar Liebscher
Original Article


The REVEALS model is applied in quantitative vegetation reconstruction to translate pollen percentage data from large lakes and peatlands into regional vegetation composition. The model was first presented in 2007 and has gained increasing attention. It is a core element of the Landcover 6k initiative within the PAGES project. The REVEALS model has two critical components: the pollen dispersal model and pollen productivity estimates (PPEs). To study the consequences of model settings, we implemented REVEALS in R. We use a state-of-the-art Lagrangian stochastic dispersal model (LSM) and compare model outcomes with calculations based on a conventional Gaussian plume dispersal model (GPM). In the LSM turbulence causes pollen fall speed to have little effect on the dispersal pattern whereas fall speed is a major factor in the GPM. Dispersal models are also used to derive PPEs. The unrealistic GPM produces PPEs that do not describe actual pollen productivity, but rather serve as a basin specific correction factor. A test with pollen and vegetation data from NE Germany shows that REVEALS performs best when applied with the LSM. REVEALS applications with the GPM can produce realistic results, but only if unrealistic PPEs are used. We discuss the derivation of PPEs and further REVEALS applications. Our REVEALS implementation is freely available as the ‘REVEALSinR’ function within the R package DISQOVER. REVEALSinR offers an environment for experimentation and analysing model sensitivities. We encourage further experiments and welcome comments on our tool.


DISQOVER Lagrangian stochastic models Pollen Fall speed of pollen Pollen productivity estimates 



We dedicate this paper to the memory of Roel Janssen and Herb Wright, whose knowledge and positive critical stance remain an inspiration. We thank Almut Mrotzek, Max Wenzel and Hans Joosten for fruitful discussions as well as John Birks and an anonymous reviewer for valuable comments on the manuscript. This study has utilized infrastructure of the Terrestrial Environmental Observatory (TERENO) of the Helmholtz Association and is a contribution to the Virtual Institute of Integrated Climate and Landscape Evolution Analysis—ICLEA—of the Helmholtz Association (VH-VI-415). The study was funded by Academy of Finland (AK).

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 321 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Theuerkauf
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • John Couwenberg
    • 2
    • 3
  • Anna Kuparinen
    • 4
  • Volkmar Liebscher
    • 5
  1. 1.Institute for Geography and GeologyErnst-Moritz-Arndt-University GreifswaldGreifswaldGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Botany and Landscape EcologyErnst-Moritz-Arndt-University GreifswaldGreifswaldGermany
  3. 3.Greifswald Mire CenterGreifswaldGermany
  4. 4.Department of Environmental SciencesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  5. 5.Institute for Mathematics and InformaticsErnst-Moritz-Arndt-University of GreifswaldGreifswaldGermany

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