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pollen analysis

pollen analysis The study of fossil pollen and spore assemblages in sediments, especially for the purpose of reconstructing the vegetational history of an area. The outer coat (exine) of a pollen grain or spore is very characteristic for a given family, genus, or sometimes even species. It is also very resistant to decay, particularly under anaerobic conditions, and virtually all spores and pollen falling on a rapidly accumulating sediment, anaerobic water, or peat are preserved. Both pollen and spores are generally widely and easily dispersed and therefore they give a better picture of the surrounding regional vegetation at the time of deposition than do macroscopic plant remains (e.g. fruits and seeds) which tend to reflect only the vegetation of the immediate locality. With careful interpretation, pollen analysis enables examination of climatic change and human influence on vegetation, as well as sediment dating and direct study of vegetation character. The technique has also been applied, more controversially, to the pollen and spore contents of modern and fossil soil profiles. Studies of contemporary pollen and spores are useful in medicine (e.g. in allergy studies and patterns of disease spread), in commerce (e.g. for the examination and quality control of honey), in agriculture (e.g. for plant and animal disease control), and even in forensic science. See also palynology.

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pollen analysis

pollen analysis The study of fossil pollen and spore assemblages in sediments, especially when reconstructing the vegetational history of an area. The outer coat (exine) of a pollen grain or spore is very characteristic for a given family, genus, or sometimes even species. It is also very resistant to decay, particularly under anaerobic conditions. Thus virtually all spores and pollen falling on a rapidly accumulating sediment, anaerobic water, or peat are preserved. Since both pollen and spores are generally widely and easily dispersed, they give a better picture of the surrounding regional vegetation at the time of deposition than do macroscopic plant remains, e.g. fruits and seeds, which tend to reflect only the vegetation of the immediate locality. With careful interpretation, pollen analysis enables examination of climatic change and human influence on vegetation, as well as sediment dating and direct study of vegetation character. The technique has also been applied, more controversially, to the pollen and spore contents of modern and fossil soil profiles. See also PALYNOLOGY.

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pollen analysis

pollen analysis See palynology.

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pollen analysis

pollen analysis See PALYNOLOGY.

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