, Volume 607, Issue 1, pp 27–40 | Cite as

Monitoring the fluvial palynomorph load in a lowland temperate catchment and its relationship to suspended sediment and discharge

Primary research paper


Despite it being a component of the seston we know very little about fluvial (waterborne) pollen and spore (palynomorph) transport. This paper presents the results of a monitoring programme conducted over two years and at a catchment scale in South West England. A hierarchical monitoring network was established with flood peak samples taken at 9 sub-catchments, intra-hydrograph samples taken in two sub-catchments and time-integrated sampling undertaken at one location. In addition sampling was undertaken of probable palynomorph sources such as channel bed and bank sediments, and the airborne pollen flux was monitored using modified Tauber traps. The results support previous research in illustrating how the vast majority of fluvial pollen and spores are transported during floods (91%) and that the main control on waterborne palynomorph assemblages is the catchment vegetation and its spatial distribution but with a long-distance (extra-catchment) component. However, strong seasonal effects are also shown, and the importance of distinctive sources such as the riparian input, bed re-suspension and overland flow into drains and tributaries is revealed. Fine sediment in river pools appears to act as a selective store of damaged cereal type pollen grains derived from arable fields. Although pollen does form part of composite particles the data presented here suggest that the majority of the pollen is transported as single grains. Fluvial palynomorph loading is strongly dependant upon discharge and so concentrations in laminated or varved sediments could be regarded as a proxy for flood magnitude.


Seston Fine particulate organic matter Waterborne pollen Suspended sediment organic transport 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. G. Brown
    • 1
  • R. G. Carpenter
    • 2
  • D. E. Walling
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Geography, Palaeoecology Laboratory University of Southampton, Highfields CampusUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK
  2. 2.South West Water LimitedPeninsula HouseDevon, ExeterUK
  3. 3.School of Geography and ArchaeologyUniversity of ExeterExeterUK

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