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As a result, scholars have come to recognize the potential of an overrepresentation of species such as pine trees, based on how efficient the plant is at getting its pollen distributed.Since von Post's day, scholars have modeled how pollen disperses from the top of the forest canopy, deposits on a lake surface, and mixes there before final accumulation as sediment in the lake bottom.Spore sizes range from 5-150 microns; pollens range from under 10 to more than 200 microns.Palynology as a science is a little over 100 years old, pioneered by the work of the Swedish geologist Lennart von Post, who in a conference in 1916 produced the first pollen diagrams from peat deposits to reconstruct the climate of western Europe after the glaciers had receded.At Von Post's very first presentation of pollen diagrams, one of his colleagues asked how he knew for sure that some of the pollen wasn't created by distant forests, an issue that is being resolved today by a set of sophisticated models.
In terrestrial environments, pollen and spore deposits are likely to be disturbed by animal and human life, but in lakes, they are trapped in thin stratified layers on the bottom, mostly undisturbed by plant and animal life.
Pollen from an archaeological site is assumed to reflect what people ate or grew, or used to build their homes or feed their animals, in addition to local climate change.
The combination of pollen from an archaeological site and a nearby lake provides depth and richness of the paleoenvironmental reconstruction.
Palynologists put sediment core tools into lake deposits, and then they observe, identify and count the pollen in the soil brought up in those cores using an optical microscope at between 400-1000x magnification.
Researchers must identify at least 200-300 pollen grains per taxa to accurately determine the concentration and percentages of particular taxa of plant.Palynology is the scientific study of pollen and spores, those virtually indestructible, microscopic, but easily identifiable plant parts found in archaeological sites and adjacent soils and water bodies.