Original paper

Modern pollen analysis: a reliable tool for discriminating Quercus rotundifolia communities in Central Spain

López-Sáez, José Antonio; Alba-Sánchez, Francisca; López-Merino, Lourdes; Pérez-Díaz, Sebastián

Abstract

The paucity of modern pollen-rain data from the Iberian Peninsula is a significant barrier to understanding the Late Quaternary vegetation history of this globally important southwestern mediterranean region. The relationships between current vegetation, the available environmental data and modern pollen are examined in Central Spain for both natural and human-induced vegetation types, as an aid for palaeoenvironmental reconstructions. A set of 60 surface moss polsters was sampled from different vegetation and land-use types in the Madrid autonomous region, and analysed to obtain modern pollen analogues of ancient cultural landscapes. Hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA) was used to divide the main pollen taxa into two major groups and ten subgroups representing the anthropic and natural vegetation types and the main communities within them. Statistically distinctive taxa were identified using principal components analysis (PCA). The results indicate that human-influenced communities have pollen assemblages that are different from those of natural vegetation types. When modern pollen assemblages are compared, the three Holm oak (Quercus rotundifolia) communities of Madrid, representing two phytogeographical provinces and three subprovinces, are easily distinguishable by their pollen spectra.

Keywords

surface pollen samplespollen-land use relationshipsanthropogenic indicatorsnumerical analysesholm oakmadridiberian peninsula