The use of historical analogues for interpreting fossil pollen records

Anne Birgitte Nielsen, Bent Vad Odgaard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Modern vegetational analogues of palaeo-landscapes, which could be useful for interpreting fossil pollen assemblages, are often not available, because increased human impact all over the world has altered the vegetation, and the way in which vegetation is recorded by pollen assemblages, including changes in species composition, pollen production, dispersal and sedimentation. Historical maps, survey records and other sources may, however, provide vegetation data for periods prior to this increased human impact, and these may be compared with pollen assemblages from the same period to provide historical analogue data sets. In this paper we review the use of historical analogues in pollen analysis to describe past vegetation patterns in relation to soil properties, climate and fire regimes, and to reconstruct past land use changes, forest composition and species range limits. The methods used include qualitative interpretations, analogue matching, ordination techniques and regression. Because the historical data sources were originally created for other purposes, they may lack the precision or detail needed for quantitative analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-43
Number of pages11
JournalVegetation History and Archaeobotany
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2004


  • Historical analogues
  • Historical maps
  • Holocene palaeoecology
  • Land use change
  • Pollen analysis
  • Quantitative landscape reconstruction

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate


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