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Palynological differentiation between genera of the Moraceae family and implications for Amazonian palaeoecology

Burn, M. J. and Mayle, F. E. ORCID: (2008) Palynological differentiation between genera of the Moraceae family and implications for Amazonian palaeoecology. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 149 (3-4). pp. 187-201. ISSN 0034-6667

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.revpalbo.2007.12.003


The Moraceae family is one of the most abundant and ecologically important families in Neotropical rainforests and is very well-represented in Amazonian fossil pollen records. However, difficulty in differentiating palynologically between the genera within this family, or between the Moraceae and Urticaceae families, has limited the amount of palaeoecological information that can be extracted from these records. The aim of this paper is to analyse the morphological properties of pollen from Amazonian species of Moraceae in order to determine whether the pollen taxonomy of this family can be improved. Descriptive and morphometric methods are used to identify and differentiate key pollen types of the Moraceae (mulberry) and Urticaceae (nettle) families which are represented in Amazonian rainforest communities of Noel Kempff Mercado National Park (NKMNP), Northeast Bolivia. We demonstrate that Helicostylis, Brosimum, Pseudolmedia, Sorocea and Pourouma pollen can be identified in tropical pollen assemblages and present digital images of, and a taxonomic key to, the Moraceae pollen types of NKMNP. Indicator species, Maquira coriacea (riparian evergreen forest) and Brosimum gaudichaudii (open woodland and upland savanna communities), also exhibit unique pollen morphologies. The ability to recognise these ecologically important taxa in pollen records provides the potential for much more detailed and reliable Neotropical palaeovegetation reconstructions than have hitherto been possible. In particular, this improved taxonomic resolution holds promise for resolving long-standing controversies over the interpretation of key Amazonian Quaternary pollen records.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Earth Systems Science
Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
ID Code:32948

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