Calibrating Vegetation Cover and Grassland Pollen Assemblages in the Flint Hills of Kansas, USA


Grassland cover and composition respond to climate and have undoubtedly changed during the Holocene, but quantitative reconstructions from fossil pollen have been vague about spatial scale and taxon-specific cover. Here, we estimate the relevant source area of pollen for sedimentary basins approximately 50 m in radius, and we report pollen productivity estimates for 12 plant taxa in the tallgrass prairies of central North America. Both relevant source area of pollen and pollen productivity estimates were calculated via the Extended R-Value Model. To obtain these estimates, we collected and quantified the pollen found in surface sediment samples from 24 ponds across the study area. Vegetation was surveyed in the field in a 100 m radius around each pond, and vegetation maps from the Kansas Gap Analysis Project (GAP) were used to a radius of 2 km. Pollen fall speeds were calculated according to Stoke’s Law. Pollen assemblages from basins approximately 50 m in radius have a relevant source area of 1060 m in this grassland landscape. Pollen productivity estimates range from 0.02 to over 30 among the 12 taxa: Artemisia, Ambrosia, Asteraceae, Chenopodiaceae, Cornus, Fabaceae, Juniperus, Maclura, Poaceae, Populus, Quercus, and Salix. Woody taxa generally have higher pollen productivity than herbaceous taxa (except for Chenopodiaceae and Ambrosia).

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J. Commerford, K. McLauchlan and S. Sugita, "Calibrating Vegetation Cover and Grassland Pollen Assemblages in the Flint Hills of Kansas, USA," American Journal of Plant Sciences, Vol. 4 No. 7A, 2013, pp. 1-10. doi: 10.4236/ajps.2013.47A1001.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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