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Relative pollen productivity estimates for alpine meadow vegetation, northeastern Tibetan Plateau

Qin, Feng; Bunting, M. Jane; Zhao, Yan; Li, Quan; Cui, Qiaoyu; Ren, Weihe


Feng Qin

Yan Zhao

Quan Li

Qiaoyu Cui

Weihe Ren


A promising method of reconstructing past vegetation from pollen records uses mathematical models of the relationship between pollen and vegetation. These can be calibrated using the extended R-value (ERV) approach on datasets of modern pollen assemblages and related vegetation surveys. This study presents the results of calibrating the pollen-vegetation models for non-arboreal pollen types in alpine meadow habitats on the Tibetan Plateau. Surface soil samples were analysed for pollen and the surrounding vegetation was recorded at 30 randomly located sites in the Zoige basin, northeastern Tibetan Plateau. ERV analysis found that the most reliable results were obtained when using ERV sub-models 1 and 2, and distance-weighting the vegetation data by applying the taxon-specific Prentice–Sutton method. The relevant source area of pollen for these soil samples was found to be ca. 200m. Relative pollen productivities (RPP) of 15 non-arboreal taxa were estimated relative to Cyperaceae (RPPCyp). The taxa can be divided into three groups according to their RPPs, those with high RPPCyp values > 1.68 (Thalictrum, Artemisia, Caryophyllaceae, Chenopodiaceae and Plantago), those with moderate values (0.42–0.62) (Taraxacum-type, Apiaceae, Polygonum and Aster-type), and those with low values < 0.4 (Gentianaceae, Potentilla, Brassicaceae, Saussurea-type and Poaceae). The RPP values obtained from our study differ from those of previous studies in other parts of China, and form the basis for future reconstruction of palaeovegetation on the Tibetan Plateau through model-based methods, such as the Landscape Reconstruction Algorithm, or Multiple Scenario Approach.


Qin, F., Bunting, M. J., Zhao, Y., Li, Q., Cui, Q., & Ren, W. (2020). Relative pollen productivity estimates for alpine meadow vegetation, northeastern Tibetan Plateau. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, 29(4), 447-462.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 14, 2019
Online Publication Date Oct 8, 2019
Publication Date Jul 1, 2020
Deposit Date Jun 19, 2019
Publicly Available Date Oct 9, 2020
Journal Vegetation History and Archaeobotany
Print ISSN 0939-6314
Electronic ISSN 1617-6278
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 29
Issue 4
Pages 447-462
Keywords Relative pollen productivity; Relevant source area of pollen; Alpine meadow; ERV approach; Tibetan Plateau
Public URL
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