Rull, V., E. Montoya, T. Giesecke, and J. L. Morris (2018), Editorial: Palynology and Vegetation History, Frontiers in Earth Science, 6(186), doi: 10.3389/feart.2018.00186.


This Research Topic (RT) was conceived as an homage to the Swedish geologist Lennart von Post (1884–1951), the founder of paleoecological palynology, to commemorate the centenary of his presentation of the first modern, quantitative pollen diagram in 1916 at the 16th Convention of Scandinavian Naturalists, held in Kristiania (now Oslo), Norway (Nordlund, 2018). His diagram and its interpretation were published two years later in Swedish (Von Post, 1918) and 51 years later in English (Von Post, 1967). The centenary was celebrated during November 2016, at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, Sweden (Gaillard et al., 2018). Birks and Berglund (2018) summarized the development of Quaternary pollen analysis since von Post's foundational work as occurring in three main phases: (i) the pioneer phase (1916–1950), the building phase (1951–1973) and the mature phase (1974-present). At the beginning, pollen analysis was mainly a stratigraphic tool used for dating and stratigraphic correlation but it later proved to be useful in botanical, biogeographical and ecological research. Since then, palynology has developed into a fundamental tool to unravel the ecological and environmental trends and changes through the Quaternary. In particular, palynology has been instrumental for disentangling natural and anthropogenic drivers of vegetation change, which is needed to understand past and present patterns and processes, and also to predict potential future trends of vegetation in the face of the ongoing climate change.

This RT aimed to provide a thorough view of the use of palynology in aspects such as the reconstruction of Quaternary vegetation and environmental changes, the role of natural and anthropogenic drivers in the development of the Quaternary vegetation, the shaping of present-day ecological and biogeographical patterns, the potential application of this knowledge in biodiversity conservation and landscape restoration and the development of new methods of pollen analysis and data management. The papers published herein cover most of these topics, among others, as the aims and scope were sufficiently broad to include any aspect of modern palynology and its significance for vegetation history. These papers are grouped under four themes. The first two are essentially methodological while the other two provide examples where pollen studies have been applied to investigate ecological dynamics at local, regional and global scales.

Reference article

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