PLoS ONE, 01 January 2014, Vol.9(8), p.e104774
Understanding relations between climate and pollen production is important for several societal and ecological challenges, importantly pollen forecasting for pollinosis treatment, forensic studies, global change biology, and high-resolution palaeoecological studies of past vegetation and climate fluctuations. For these purposes, we investigate the role of climate variables on annual-scale variations in pollen influx, test the regional consistency of observed patterns, and evaluate the potential to reconstruct high-frequency signals from sediment archives. A 43-year pollen-trap record from the Netherlands is used to investigate relations between annual pollen influx, climate variables (monthly and seasonal temperature and precipitation values), and the North Atlantic Oscillation climate index. Spearman rank correlation analysis shows that specifically in Alnus, Betula, Corylus, Fraxinus, Quercus and Plantago both temperature in the year prior to (T-1), as well as in the growing season (T), are highly significant factors (TApril rs between 0.30 [P〈0.05[ and 0.58 [P〈0.0001]; TJuli-1 rs between 0.32 [P〈0.05[ and 0.56 [P〈0.0001]) in the annual pollen influx of wind-pollinated plants. Total annual pollen prediction models based on multiple climate variables yield R2 between 0.38 and 0.62 (P〈0.0001). The effect of precipitation is minimal. A second trapping station in the SE Netherlands, shows consistent trends and annual variability, suggesting the climate factors are regionally relevant. Summer temperature is thought to influence the formation of reproductive structures, while temperature during the flowering season influences pollen release. This study provides a first predictive model for seasonal pollen forecasting, and also aides forensic studies. Furthermore, variations in pollen accumulation rates from a sub-fossil peat deposit are comparable with the pollen trap data. This suggests that high frequency variability pollen records from natural archives reflect annual past climate variability, and can be used in palaeoecological and -climatological studies to bridge between population- and species-scale responses to climate forcing.
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