S. Hicks

Modern pollen data play an important role in projects which use the present day vegetation situation for interpreting the past (e.g. the Biome 6000 - PMIP projects mentioned later in this letter). In such projects the quality and reliability of the reconstruction stands or falls on the quality of the modern samples. The EPD has records of approximately 800 modern samples which give the pollen composition of moss polsters, lake surface sediments, surface soil samples etc. This data set is not as yet included within the EPD proper. The AB of the EPD would like to see this data set extended and also have it in a form where the different sediment types are equally well represented spatially, so that it can be made available to a wide range of researchers. To this end we are hoping to enlarge both the lake sediment and the moss polster set by including the core tops (those that represent the true modern surface of the sediment) of lake and peat profiles respectively which are already in the EPD. For this modern pollen data to useable for a wide range of projects, however, it is essential that the accompanying metadata includes all of the following information:

  • Latitude, longitude and altitude of the sample.
  • Type of sample (moss, peat surface, soil surface, lake sediment etc.)
  • Type of site (open/within closed vegetation, natural/anthropogenic vegetation, etc.)
  • Species present in the immediately surrounding vegetation and their abundance.
  • Main species of the regional vegetation.
  • The year in which the sample was collected.
  • The analyst.
  • We would encourage contributors who already have such data in the EPD to provide additional metadata (as above) which may have been lacking and also ask for additional contributions wherever data of this type are available. A second, but rather different type of modern pollen sample is that collected by traps. A database of this type is also being developed within the framework of the INQUA Workshop European Pollen Monitoring Programme (EPMP). This database, too, will be in the same format as the fossil profiles in the EPD. The major way in which these values will differ from the modern pollen values mentioned above is that there will be a series of annual records from the same site. Moreover, these annual values will be expressible as pollen influx values, so that values for individual pollen taxa are directly comparable between sites and even over great distances. In term of vegetation reconstructions it will be necessary to use the average of several years to produce a value for comparison with fossil samples but in terms of climate the annual variations at one and the same site are highly significant. Pollen trap data, as standardized through the EPMP, will be kept quite separate from the data set of modern pollen samples from mosses and lake sediments.