Tracking Environmental Change Using Lake Sediments

Volume 5 of the series Developments in Paleoenvironmental Research pp 3-17


The March Towards the Quantitative Analysis of Palaeolimnological Data

  • John P. SmolAffiliated withPaleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Lab (PEARL), Department of Biology, Queen’s University Email author 
  • , H. John B. BirksAffiliated withDepartment of Biology and Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, University of BergenEnvironmental Change Research Centre, University College LondonSchool of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford
  • , André F. LotterAffiliated withLaboratory of Palaeobotany and Palynology, Department of Biology, University of Utrecht
  • , Steve JugginsAffiliated withSchool of Geography, Politics & Sociology, University of Newcastle

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We outline the aims of palaeolimnology and describe the major types of palaeolimnological data. The distinction between biological data derived from stratigraphical studies of cores and modern surface-sediment samples with environmental data is discussed. A brief history of the development of quantitative palaeolimnology is presented, starting with early applications of principal component analysis in 1975. Major developments occurred in the late 1980s, thanks to the work of Cajo ter Braak and others. The structure of the book in terms of four parts is explained. Part I is introductory and presents an overview of numerical methods and of the data-sets used. Part II presents numerical approaches appropriate to the analysis of modern and stratigraphical palaeolimnological data. Part III considers numerical techniques that are only applicable to stratigraphical data, and Part IV presents three case-studies and concludes with a discussion of future challenges.


Calibration Calibration functions Data-sets Numerical Palaeolimnology Temporal scales Transfer functions