Modern surface pollen assemblages from the Middle and High Atlas, Morocco: insights into pollen representation and transport


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<p>Thirty-three modern surface samples were collected in the environmentally and climatologically contrasting regions of the Middle and High Atlas Mountains, Morocco. Samples representing forest and steppe montane environments (1935–2760 m above sea level) are clustered around study sites at Lake Tislit (High Atlas, semi-arid oro-Mediterranean bioclime) and Lake Sidi Ali and Michliffen (Middle Atlas, sub-humid montane Mediterranean bioclime). Good discrimination between regional pollen spectra is evident, with Middle Atlas samples reflecting higher arboreal cover (<i>Cedrus</i> and evergreen <i>Quercus</i>) and High Atlas samples with high abundances of non-arboreal taxa, including <i>Artemisia</i> and Fabaceae. These four taxa (<i>Cedrus</i>, evergreen <i>Quercus, Artemisia</i> and Fabaceae) are furthermore shown to be reliable indicators of local source vegetation within a 100 m<sup>2</sup> quadrat, taking into account threshold abundances of 7%, 20%, 4% and 10%, respectively. Deciduous <i>Quercus, Olea</i> and <i>Phillyrea</i> show long-distance pollen dispersal across both regions, contributing to non-trivial arboreal pollen (AP) values of up to 35% (typically 20–30%) in the High Atlas spectra. In the Middle Atlas, AP values of 40 to 50% occur in open sampling locations and > 60% under forest canopy cover. These insights should be taken into account when interpreting ancient pollen spectra from regional lakes and bogs for palaeoenvironmental reconstruction.</p>
Date made available18 Jan 2016

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