European Pollen Database - Newsletter 7 (July 1997)


Jacques-Louis de Beaulieu & Sheila Hicks

For the second time, the EPD Advisory Board/Executive Committee meeting was not held at the database centre (Arles) but in a host institution. Our warm thanks to Magdalena Ralska-Jasiewiczowa and Brian Huntley for their excellent organization of the two meetings in Krakow in 1996 and in Durham in 1997, respectively. They offered us the opportunity for a thorough discussion on the strategy of the database and its future perspectives and for collectively writing the newsletter. The meetings also ensured the renewal of the Advisory Board/Executive Committee members.

This year four new members were invited to join the team: André Lotter as a member of the EC, Tiiu Koff, Ramon Perez-Obiol and Chronis Tzedakis as members of the AB. Welcome on Board! The EPD needs your expertise and conviction. Our warmest thanks go to those who contributed to the launching of the EPD and are now leaving the group, namely Brigitta Amman, Sytze Bottema and Roel Janssen. We know anyway that they will continue to promote the EPD. After 6 years of existence, the EPD has achieved several of its objectives, thanks to its active contributors and manager. About 750 sites have been compiled so far and the number of contributions is constantly increasing. The EPD is now well known and researchers from fields other than palynology look to its structure as an example to follow. This is an opportunity to remind you that the EPD is available on two Web sites but can also be requested on diskettes directly from the database manager. Please have a look at it and provide us with your comments.

We have already started applying depth/age models to some pollen sequences and this task will require more of your assistance and help in the near future. With respect to this, the database manager will receive the help of a doctoral assistant from September 1997. Accurate chronologies are necessary to link all the European pollen records available in the database so that they can be used reliably at the continental scale. We hope that this joint effort will provide a forum for discussion and that the results we obtain will convince those colleagues who have not had the opportunity to contribute that it is worth archiving their data in the EPD.


The 1997 annual meeting of the Executive Committee and Advisory Board of the European Pollen database was held April 17 - 20th in Durham, England. Following established tradition, this newsletter comprises a summary of the main points presented at that meeting together with the discussions that arose and the decisions that were made. Please note that this newsletter is also available on these WWW sites.

Future newsletters will be available primarily from these sites (please see attached questionnaire).

Progress at the database since Newsletter 6 (March 1996)

Additions to the database: The database manager reported that 149 sites had been collected during the past year, mostly from central and eastern Europe, in connection with the PECO and INTAS projects which involve countries from eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, respectively. In the framework of these cooperative projects, five scientists visited the EPD in 1996. The aim of their visit was "three fold": (1) to contribute new data, with complete information, to the EPD (2) to establish reliable depth/age chronologies for each pollen record (3) to familiarize themselves with some of the EPD software. The following scientists visited the EPD:

Of the 149 new sites, 27 are restricted and 122 unrestricted, and 42 cover the whole period from the late-glacial to the present. From henceforth all data from Bulgaria are unrestricted and a large proportion of those from Lithuania. Some new sites are available from the Black Sea and continental shelf, but have not yet been incorporated because they represent marine environments.The EPD currently contains approximately 750 sites, of which 17 are Eemian. The coverage of sites within Europe is still very uneven and the lack of sites from Germany is noticeable. It is hoped that the DFG programme, "Changes in the Geobiosphere During the Last 15 000 years", will stimulate the flow of data to the EPD. Emphasis in the coming year will be on obtaining data from sites in Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Serbia and in encouraging the contribution of data from the sites referred to in the recently published volume: Berglund et al. (1996) Palaeoecological events during the last 15000 years.

Requests for data from the Database: EPD data are available in Tilia, ASCII, and Paradox format from Internet (WWW and FTP) servers at the WDC-A for Paleoclimatology in Boulder and its mirror sites, including from Medias-France in Toulouse. Most users download data directly from these locations. A relatively small number of individuals have requested data on diskettes directly from the database manager. These diskettes include the restricted data, as opposed to the Internet servers, which distribute only the unrestricted data. In 1996, the database manager received no specific requests for restricted data. Diskettes are currently distributed free of charge along with a copy of the EPD protocols, which state that restricted data cannot be used without the principal investigator’s permission. In future, a charge to cover the basic costs of producing the diskettes will be made. This fee may, however, be waived at the discretion of the database manager, e.g. for data contributors.

Spreading the word about the EPD: The EPD is now well-known, and has been used as a template for the development of other databases (see below, The North-east England Pollen Database). Nevertheless, it is important to remind the palaeoclimate and palaeoecological communities of its existence and potential application in research projects. During the past year, the database manager, Rachid Cheddadi, made presentations concerning the EPD at:

The Alpine Database: ALPADABA Funding for ALPADABA has now come to an end, although the work is not yet complete, and some unfunded work is continuing. ALPADABA contains 132 sites and participants in the project are now developing papers based on the database. The ALPADABA database will not be incorporated en bloc in the EPD, instead the individual scientists who have contributed will be given the option of having their data transferred and will be encouraged to do so. Four sites have been transferred to date.

The pre Holocene and Weichselian late-glacial part of the EPD: As reported in the last newsletter, funding for the collection of interglacial data has ended. Data collected through these projects are still to be fully incorporated in the EPD, as are the long Pleistocene sequences that were contributed during 1996.

Decisions Affecting the Database

Marine sites: Marine sites are to be accepted for inclusion in the EPD. It is recognized that there exist sequences from marine sediments that are just as well dated as those from lakes and that contain pollen sequences that can be logically interpreted, and that there are also sedimentary sequences that cover both marine and lake phases. There seems no reason, therefore, to exclude such marine sequences. The accompanying descriptive information ensures that marine deposition environments can be distinguished from freshwater ones if needed.

Incorporation of the EPD into the GPD (Global Pollen Database): At the 1996 meeting of the EPD Advisory Board in Krakow, the board decided to permit the incorporation of EPD data into the GPD. The GPD now contains data from Australia, Europe, Latin America, North America, Siberia and the Russian Far East. The first data from the EPD have now been added to the GPD and the pace of inclusion should now accelerate. The advantages of a single, global database are many: queries can be made without regard to political or geographical boundaries; the data are more consistent, differences that invariable arise in physically separate databases are eliminated; regional subsets of the database that are consistent with regard to taxonomy, publications, and a host of other factors are now possible; application software is easier to develop and maintain. The two main problems in actually achieving the transfer of EPD data to the GPD are (1) the lack of chronologies for EPD sites, and (2) some problems of taxonomy. Since the 1996 meeting, the EPD database manager has, in collaboration with data contributors, developed chronologies for many sites. EPD names will not be changed, so the pollen taxonomy of the EPD will not be compromised by transfer to the GPD, however, inclusion with data from other areas will inevitably result in changes to the hierarchical relationship among pollen types. After discussion it was determined that following transfer of the EPD data to the GPD, the GPD data manager will produce a list of all hierarchical relationships that differ from those currently in the EPD. The EPD taxonomy working group will then have the opportunity to review and revise these changes.

Depth-age Chronologies for EPD Sites: All sites in the database, where at all possible, should include at least one chronology. Well developed chronologies are critical for making pollen data useful to the broader scientific community, which in turn enhances the respect and support for palynological research. We would like to ask contributors to assist the database manager in developing the depth-age relationships. The database manager has already developed some chronologies in collaboration with other principal investigators for specific research projects. Currently, approximately 250 sites have chronologies. Priority for chronology development will be placed on unrestricted sites. Sites without age control may also be entered in the database, particularly if these are sites that were investigated some years ago and for which the data would otherwise be lost. Undated sites are, nevertheless, often very interesting for ecological reasons. The pollen community at large is also encouraged to consider redating or obtaining additional dates, using the AMS method, from critical sites for which the cores still exist.

A Listserver for the EPD


The European Pollen Database List is a forum for keeping both contributors to the database and potential users of the database informed of database developments. News shared via the list will include: information about when and how to access EPD newsletters, queries concerning data, instructions about contributing data, ongoing or planned projects which use EPD data, reference lists of publications involving EPD data, and information about software for visualizing EPD data. The database, which contains Pleistocene pollen sequences, can be accessed via the EPD Web page, or it can be obtained on disc from the centre in Arles, France. Requests and individual specific queries should be addressed to the database manager at:

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Reports from Other Database Projects

The North-east England Pollen Database: (Kathryn E. Pratt: Durham Wildlife Trust, Low Barns, Witton-le-Wear, Bishop Auckland, DL14 0AG. The North-east England Pollen Database (NEEPD) is an archive of pollen data from cores taken from throughout the North-east of England by a wide range of pollen workers. It brings together for the first time data from over 180 cores, both radiocarbon dated and non-dated, from around 150 site locations distributed fairly evenly across a range of landscape types found in the region. The database was set up as part of a Ph.D. research project carried out by the author between 1992-1996 jointly between the Departments of Biological Sciences (supervisor: Brian Huntley) and Archaeology, entitled Development of Methods for Investigating Past Settlement and Land-use using Pollen Data: A Case-Study from North-east England circa 8000 calibrated (cal.) years BC - AD 500. Although the North-east England Pollen Database operates on a far smaller level than the European Pollen Database and will be maintained as an ongoing project, it was decided to base the structure of the database upon EPD, with the aim of it being ultimately integrated into the larger European database. If you require further information, please contact the author at the above address.

Natural Environment Research Council (UK) (Helen Glaves: For data generated from a NERC funded project, scientists are obliged to lodge these data with a NERC data centre. Primary investigators are permitted a reasonable length of time in which to work exclusively on and publish results of their data. At present it is not possible to submit data generated from a NERC funded project to an alternative data centre, i.e. EPD or WDC-A for pollen data. The procedures or possible charges for obtaining these data from NERC are presently unclear.

BUGS (Paul Buckland, BUGS database). BUGS is a beetle database containing modern ecological as well as fossil data. The database, which contains information on ~5000 taxa, is currently developed in Microsoft Access. Modern distribution maps are now implemented, and eventually maps of fossil taxa will be made available. For any taxon, one may generate a list of site occurrences. or, alternatively, one may obtain the list of taxa for any site. One may also search by ecological requirements. The database is ~80% complete for Britain, and ~60% complete for Northern Europe. The database is public domain, and may be obtained from the WDC-A in Boulder or its mirror sites.

ABCD (Archaeobotanical Computerized Database) (Allan Hall, This database contains macrofossil data from archaeological sites in the British Isles. The database is developed in Paradox. No plans are current to expand the database beyond the British Isles. The database is available from the Internet Archaeology journal.

Reports of Projects using EPD data

BIOME 6000: (Project leaders: C. Prentice & T. Webb III.) The aim of the project is to produce a biome map of the world based on climate parameters and to check this map against the fossil-pollen data.

PMIP (Palaeoclimate Modeling Intercomparison Project): (Project leaders: Sylvie Jousseaume & K. Taylor.) This project aims to compare the output from several GCM’s using the same boundary conditions, and to compare the results of these experiments with the palaeodata. Cheddadi et al. (1997) recently published a paper for this project in Climate Dynamics. This study used 93 unrestricted EPD sites. Maps from this study are at the WDC-A WWW site in Boulder or one of its mirrors.

EPMP (European Pollen Monitoring Programme): (Project leader: Sheila Hicks.) The aim of this project is to monitor modern pollen deposition (grains cm2 yr1) with modified Tauber traps with transects across the range limits of major European tree species. At this time 18 countries are involved. Trapping commenced in Sept.-Oct. 1996 in most areas. The annual data will be submitted to the EPD. Participation in the project is open to anyone who is interested. A booklet of guidelines can be obtained from:

OAK (Synthetic Maps of Gene Diversity and Provenance Performance for Utilization and Conservation of Oak Resources in Europe): (Project leader: Antoine Kremer) The aim of the project is to construct a geographic map of chloroplast DNA cytotypes at a European scale and compare the pattern of genetic diversity of oaks (Quercus petraea, Q. robur) with the historical record of oak migration/expansion from pollen data.

EAST (East European Vegetation Assemblages on a South-north Transect): (Project leaders: Sheila Hicks & Rachid Cheddadi) The aim of this project is to map vegetation on 500-yr time slices for the period 15-5 ka along a transect with the bounds 20 -30 E and 35 -75 N. Participants are all people who have contributed data from the transect to the EPD. Chronologies for the sites will be developed jointly by the data contributors and the EPD database manager.

CAPE (Circum Arctic Palaeo-environments): A PAGES project to reconstruct palaeoenvironments with palaeoclimate interpretation for the Holocene north of 60 N. Following IGBP, PAGES policy, CAPE requests that all CAPE pollen data must be registered in some way. For the Icelandic, Fennoscandian, Svalbard and European Russia data this effectively means submission to the EPD.

Publications Using EPD Data

Prentice, I.C., Guiot, J., Huntley, B., Jolly, D. and Cheddadi, R. (1996). Reconstructing biomes from palaeoecological data: a general method and its application to European pollen data at 0 and 6Ka. Climate Dynamics, 12:185-194.

Guiot, J., Cheddadi, R., Prentice, I.C. and Jolly, D. (1996). A method of biome and land surface mapping from pollen data: application to Europe 6000 years ago. Palaeoclimates, 1:311-324.

Cheddadi, R., Yu, G. Guiot, J., Harrison, S.P. and Prentice, I.C. (1997). The climate of Europe 6000 years ago. Climate Dynamics, 13:1-9.

We would like to take this opportunity to inform project leaders that authors of publications using EPD data are henceforth obliged to send copies of their publications to the database centre.

Suggested Future Projects

Investigating climate changes over short time intervals: the potential of the Holocene pollen record.

Bas van Geel (

Several international projects using pollen data concentrate on time slices, or on sequences of ‘snapshots’ at relatively long time intervals (500 or even 1000 years). However, some of the climate changes during the Late Glacial and Holocene occurred in relatively short periods of time (decennia or maybe even shorter) and such abrupt changes generally will not be detected by these long time interval studies. According to Denton and Karlen (1973), Magny (1993), Kilian et al. (1995) and van Geel et al. (1996) changes in delta 14C, as reconstructed from radiocarbon calibration data, can be used as a climate proxy. During the Holocene there are several abrupt, temporary increases of atmospheric 14C content which seem to correspond to climatic cooling and increased precipitation. Recent studies by Svensmark, Friis-Christensen and Lassen (in press) have revealed that cosmic radiation plays a dominant role in cloud formation; this may explain the observed parallel between increases of delta 14C in the past and rising water levels in lakes, bogs and soils (14C is formed in the atmosphere by the interaction of cosmic rays with nitrogen). Changing solar activity may be the forcing mechanism behind the observed changes because during periods of reduced solar activity the earth’s magnetic field is weaker and more cosmic rays can reach the atmosphere. It is hypothesized that this radiation stimulates cloud formation and precipitation, and at the same time causes increased 14C production. Information about abrupt climate change may be extracted from pollen diagrams (at least those with sufficiently close sampling intervals and enough radiocarbon dates). This potential offers scope for new projects with the aim of exploring possible climate changes in relatively short periods of time that are characterized by sharp increases of atmospheric 14C content. Such investigations could provide new and detailed information about climate change and climatic teleconnections during the Holocene. In this way new steps perhaps can be taken in understanding mechanisms of abrupt climate change in the past and the effect of such changes both upon vegetation and upon prehistoric farming in marginal areas.


Denton, G.H. and Karlen, W., 1974. Holocene climatic variations: their pattern and possible cause. Quaternary Research 3: 155-205.
Kilian, M.R., van der Plicht, J. and van Geel, B., 1995. Dating raised bogs: new aspects of AMS 14C wiggle match dating, a reservoir effect and climate change. Quaternary Science Reviews 14: 959-966.
Magny, M., 1993. Solar influence on Holocene climatic changes illustrated by correlations between past lake-level fluctuations and the atmospheric 14C record. Quaternary Research 40: 1-9.
Svensmark, H. and Friis-Christensen, E. 1997. Variation of cosmic ray flux and global cloud coverage - a missing link in solar-climate relationships. Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics 59: 1225-1232
van Geel, B., Buurman, J. and Waterbolk, H.T., 1996. Archaeological and palaeoecological indications of an abrupt climate change in The Netherlands, and evidence for climatological teleconnections around 2650 BP. Journal of Quaternary Science 11: 451-460.

Visualisation of Pollen Data

The Advisory Board saw a demonstration of pollen-data visualisation produced by Paul Morin of the University of Minnesota ( This visualisation is still in the process of development but the intention is that it should eventually be accessible on the Internet. It is hoped that future development can proceed as a joint effort with EPD contributors and/or the EPD Advisory Board.

It will be possible to produce a version of ShowTime (software developed by E. Grimm and J. Keltner) for Europe as soon as the spatial coverage of sites with chronologies is better and a list of important synthetic taxa to be illustrated is agreed on.

PAGES/WDC-A Contribution Series

The WDC-A for Paleoclimatology will be publishing a Contribution Series with a citation for each site contributed to the GPD. These include all the unrestricted EPD sites. These citations include an editor, normally the database manager and/or coordinators or collaborators from regional databases. An example of the proposed citation follows (this example is from the Latin American Pollen Database):

Watts, W.A. 1993. Lake Patzcuaro pollen record. In V. Markgraf and L. Anderson, editors. Latin American Pollen Database. IGBP PAGES/World Data Center-A for Paleoclimatology Data Contribution Series #1993-9999. NOAA/NGDC Paleoclimatology Program, Boulder, Colorado, USA.

Present composition of the EPD Executive Committee and Advisory Board

(the figure in parentheses indicates the year in which the person comes up for re-election)

Executive Committee

Jacques-Louis de Beaulieu (Chairperson) (1999)

Brian Huntley (1999)

André F. Lotter (2002)

Advisory Board

Sheila Hicks (Chairperson) (2000)

Magdalena Ralska-Jasiewiczowa (Vice-Chairperson) (1999)

Elissaveta Bozilova (1998)

George Jacobson (1998)

Meiluté Kabailiené (1998)

Henry Lamb (1999)

Thomas Litt (2000)

Andrei Andreev (2001)

Bas van Geel (2001)

Tiiu Koff (2002)

Chronis Tzedakis (2002)

Ramon Perez-Obiol (2002)

Database manager

Rachid Cheddadi


The EPD mailing list contains over 600 names, making the distribution of the EPD Newsletter, as a printed matter, costly both in terms of time and money. To reduce such costs we would like to send printed issues only to those colleagues who can not access the Newsletter through the WWW (see, EPD.

1. Do you wish to continue to receive the newsletter in paper form (colleagues who do not reply will be removed from the mailing list)? We will announce the publication of each Newsletter on the new Listserver (see above). Please subscribe to the Listserver for information about when a new Newsletter is available

2. Have you downloaded the EPD: Yes/No If Yes, then please specify when, and for what purpose (teaching, research, information, ...)

If you have used the EPD for research that has now been published please send a copy of that publication to the database manager (

Newsletter Number 7 10

European Pollen Database, Centre Universitaire d'Arles, 13200 Arles – France Tel: 33-4- Fax: 33-4-