Quantitative indicative significance of pollen assemblages on vegetation coverage in deciduous Quercus forest in the central Loess Plateau, China

  • Yuanhao Sun
  • Shengrui ZhangEmail author
  • Qinghai XuEmail author
  • Yiwen Li
  • Wei Shen
  • Tao Wang
  • Zhongze Zhou
  • Ruchun Zhang
Research Paper


We compared the pollen assemblages of surface moss samples and corresponding vegetation inventory data from 34 sites in the Huangling region of the central Loess Plateau. Our aims were to determine the characteristics of the pollen assemblages from the deciduous broadleaved forest climax community and its significance in terms of vegetation type and species composition. The pollen assemblages are dominated by woody plants such as Quercus (42% of total terrestrial pollen), Betula (16%) and Pinus (12%), with minor differences between different plant communities. The pollen assemblages of individual sampling sites differed from the vegetation composition within the 0–100 m scope and were more similar to the vegetation coverage within the 0–1000 m scope. This indicates that the surface pollen assemblages mainly reflect the comprehensive information from the vegetation composition of a large area, rather than the vegetation composition close to the sampling site. The contents of Quercus, Betula and Pinus pollen are high, and close to their vegetation coverage; whereas the contents of deciduous broadleaved arbor taxa (such as Malus and Acer) are lower, but their corresponding regional vegetation cover is higher. This suggests that the vegetation information conveyed by poorly-represented pollen taxa should be considered when interpreting stratigraphic pollen assemblages. Using the observed quantitative relationships between pollen and vegetation of the main taxa, we reconstructed the regional vegetation composition in the Gonghai Lake area of the northeastern Loess Plateau during the middle Holocene (7300–5000 yr BP). The results indicated that Quercus-dominated deciduous broadleaved forest climax community developed in the mountains surrounding the lake.


Loess Plateau Deciduous broadleaved forest Climax community Pollen assemblage Absolute vegetation coverage 


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This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 41630753, 41702184 & 41611130050), the Hebei Key Laboratory of Environmental Change and Ecological Construction and Key discipline fund project in Hebei province, and the Science Foundation of Hebei Normal University (Grant No. L2018B29). The study is a contribution to the PAGES LandCover6k working group.


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Copyright information

© Science China Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yuanhao Sun
    • 1
  • Shengrui Zhang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Qinghai Xu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Yiwen Li
    • 1
  • Wei Shen
    • 2
  • Tao Wang
    • 1
  • Zhongze Zhou
    • 3
  • Ruchun Zhang
    • 4
  1. 1.College of Resources and Environment Sciences, Hebei Key Laboratory of Environmental Change and Ecological ConstructionHebei Normal UniversityShijiazhuangChina
  2. 2.Institute of Nihewan ArchaeologyHebei Normal UniversityShijiazhuangChina
  3. 3.College of Resources and EnvironmentAnhui UniversityHefeiChina
  4. 4.Institute of Geographical ScienceHebei Academy of SciencesShijiazhuangChina

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