This paper explores the vegetation signals contained in the non-arboreal pollen and spore (NAPS) components of pollen assemblages from Tauber traps placed in woodlands subject to rotational cutting (coppicing) in lowland England. Sets of three Tauber traps were placed in compartments of different ages at multiple locations within each woodland for 1 year, and pollen assemblages recorded along with a vegetation survey using a modified pin-frame method in an area of 10 m radius around each trap array. Cluster analysis suggests that, as expected, the ground layer vegetation broadly reflects the different environmental conditions in the three woods, with the main subdivisions within woods apparently driven by changes in ground cover between the early and late stages of the coppice cycle. Non-arboreal pollen and spores (NAPS) assemblages group according to woodland of origin, with subdivisions which relate to pollen abundance but lack a simple relationship with years since cutting. Indices of Association between NAPS records and plant presence in the area around each array were calculated using presence–absence data for multiple distances of vegetation survey. All values tend towards an asymptote, which is interpreted as implying an effective source area for the single taxon presence–absence indicator values of ground flora taxa in coppiced woodlands on the order of a 10 m radius. Only four taxa, Poaceae, Ranunculus acris-type, Cyperaceae, and Scilla-type, have an Index of Association (A) greater than 0.5, implying that the presence of pollen can be interpreted in terms of the local presence of the relevant plant taxon with some confidence. Estimates of Pollen Productivity relative to Poaceae are presented for five taxa: Apiaceae, Asteraceae (Cardueae), Cyperaceae, Mercurialis perennis, and Scilla-type. Years since cutting does affect the ground vegetation and NAPS assemblage trapped in these woods, but that the effect is more clearly seen at an assemblage level in the vegetation than in the pollen assemblages. The interpretative significance of NAPS taxa does not seem to be in providing information about the local conditions around the sampling point, but in reflecting the ground flora of the wider woodland.
Bunting, M., Grant, M., & Waller, M. (2016). Pollen signals of ground flora in managed woodlands. Review of palaeobotany and palynology, 224(2), 121-133. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.revpalbo.2015.10.001