Pollen preservation zones as an interpretative tool in Holocene palynology

John C. Tweddle, Kevin J. Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Numerous taphonomic and statistical factors influence the composition of the palynological record and the interpretation of pollen count data is far from simple. Quantification of the condition in which the pollen has been preserved can increase the confidence of such interpretation by highlighting parts of the record that are likely to have been influenced by changing taphonomy. Despite the benefits, preservation analysis is a relatively under-used technique and there remain a lack of observational data from a wide range of geographical locations and depositional contexts. This paper presents the results of detailed pollen preservation analyses completed for four in-filled basins from Holderness, lowland eastern England. We examine the Holocene pollen records in detail and employ what we believe to be a novel methodology the definition and assignment of Local Pollen Preservation Zones to help assess patterns of pollen deterioration, both within and between sites. The data obtained are used to consider a range of topics, including the evidence for local and regional influences on pollen deterioration frequency, relationships between preservation and broad-scale aspects of the depositional environment, and the origins of occasional incidences of pollen from major arboreal taxa. Evidence for two different forms of perforation corrosion is also discussed. The outcomes of this study are of relevance to palynological investigations over a range of timescales, not just the Holocene, and we hope that this contribution will stimulate further consideration of the role that pollen preservation analysis can contribute to palynology as a discipline. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-76
Number of pages18
JournalReview of Palaeobotany and Palynology
Issue number1-2
Early online date27 Mar 2010
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010


  • pollen preservation
  • Local Pollen Preservation Zones
  • taphonomy
  • pyrite spherules
  • Holocene
  • England
  • Yorkshire
  • vegetation relationships
  • deteriorated pollen
  • corroded pollen
  • Holderness
  • Scotland
  • degradation
  • Perthshire
  • diagrams
  • deposits


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