Pollen productivity estimates of key European plant taxa for quantitative reconstruction of past vegetation: a review

Anna Broström, Anne Birgitte Nielsen, Marie-José Gaillard, Kari Hjelle, Florence Mazier, Heather Binney, Jane Bunting, Ralph Fyfe, Viveca Meltsov, Anneli Poska, Satu Räsänen, Welmoed Soepboer, Henrik von Stedingk, Henna Suutari, Shinya Sugita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

248 Citations (Scopus)


Information on the spatial distribution of past vegetation on local, regional and global scales is increasingly used within climate modelling, nature conservancy and archaeology. It is possible to obtain such information from fossil pollen records in lakes and bogs using the landscape reconstruction algorithm (LRA) and its two models, REVEALS and LOVE. These models assume that reliable pollen productivity estimates (PPEs) are available for the plant taxa involved in the quantitative reconstructions of past vegetation, and that PPEs are constant through time. This paper presents and discusses the PPEs for 15 tree and 18 herb taxa obtained in nine study areas of Europe. Observed differences in PPEs between regions may be explained by methodological issues and environmental variables, of which climate and related factors such as reproduction strategies and growth forms appear to be the most important. An evaluation of the PPEs at hand so far suggests that they can be used in modelling applications and quantitative reconstructions of past vegetation, provided that consideration of past environmental variability within the region is used to inform selection of PPEs, and bearing in mind that PPEs might have changed through time as a response to climate change. Application of a range of possible PPEs will allow a better evaluation of the results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)461-478
Number of pages18
JournalVegetation History and Archaeobotany
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2008


  • Herb taxa
  • Lake sediments
  • Landscape reconstruction algorithm (LRA)
  • Moss polsters
  • Pollen productivity estimates (PPE)
  • Tree taxa

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate


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