Glacial and postglacial vegetation


To reconstruct the vegetation of the past involves, as does any historical research, numerous sources of error and omission. Yet reconstruction is necessary if we are to understand the changing environment of the past or to interpret modern vegetation. There is no escape from considerable, legitimate, inference based on geology as well as upon living plants and communities believed to be relicts of past conditions. But so far as possible, inference must be checked by direct evidence in the form of organic remains whose sequence and identity can be verified. In this connection pollen preserved in peat and related deposits is especially useful; and because of the close association of such deposits with glaciation they have been much employed in the study of glacial and postglacial vegetation. The results so obtained form the main basis for the following discussion which will deal first with the Pleistocene, 1 then with postglacial conditions. On the basis of what is known of the various glacial limits and the present temperature zonation of plant life there has been considerable conjecture as to the pattern of vegetation at the times of maximum ice advance. The absence of harriers to the south and west in North America afforded a condition which does not obtain in Europe where the retreat of plants away from the ice was restricted. The general theory is that tundra, scrub, conifers and deciduous forest shifted as belts before the advancing ice, then followed back in its wake as it melted. Actually, of course, the ice

DOI: 10.1007/BF02869925

Cite this paper

@article{Sears2008GlacialAP, title={Glacial and postglacial vegetation}, author={Paul B. Sears}, journal={The Botanical Review}, year={2008}, volume={1}, pages={37-51} }