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Pollen, women, war and other things: reflections on the history of palynology

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The development of palynology since its recognised launch in 1916 by Lennart von Post is examined in terms of its historiography, the biographies of pollen analysts and the role of those who have influenced the discipline. Emphasis is placed upon research beginnings in Scandinavia (especially Sweden), Great Britain and Ireland. Within an analytical narrative which includes archival and published sources, special consideration is given to a ‘proclamation’ on methodology which appeared in 1909, on a supposed geology/botany dichotomy stemming from von Post’s background, on the forgotten early practitioners in Britain and Ireland and their connections, on the role of women up to the end of the Second World War and on issues related to wartime hostilities. Present day palynology can trace a continuity from von Post and palynologists are part of an extended disciplinary genealogy. Ignorance of these can be seen as a loss of heritage and to represent an intellectual impoverishment.
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Vegetation History and Archaeobotany (2018) 27:319–335
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00334-017-0629-8
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Pollen, women, war andother things: reflections onthehistory
ofpalynology
KevinJ.Edwards1,2
Received: 14 April 2017 / Accepted: 31 July 2017 / Published online: 8 August 2017
© The Author(s) 2017. This article is an open access publication
Abstract
The development of palynology since its recognised launch in 1916 by Lennart von Post is examined in terms of its histo-
riography, the biographies of pollen analysts and the role of those who have influenced the discipline. Emphasis is placed
upon research beginnings in Scandinavia (especially Sweden), Great Britain and Ireland. Within an analytical narrative which
includes archival and published sources, special consideration is given to a ‘proclamation’ on methodology which appeared in
1909, on a supposed geology/botany dichotomy stemming from von Post’s background, on the forgotten early practitioners in
Britain and Ireland and their connections, on the role of women up to the end of the Second World War and on issues related
to wartime hostilities. Present day palynology can trace a continuity from von Post and palynologists are part of an extended
disciplinary genealogy. Ignorance of these can be seen as a loss of heritage and to represent an intellectual impoverishment.
Keywords Lennart von Post· Gustaf Lagerheim· Gunnar Erdtman· Palynology· Historiography· Pioneers· Biographies
Introduction
Since its recognised launch in 1916 (von Post 1916a [a sum-
mary with discussion], fully published as Von Post 1918),
pollen-based palynology has had a generally positive billing.
Roberts’s (2014, p.33) statement that palynology is ‘the
single most important branch of terrestrial palaeoecology
for the late Pleistocene and Holocene’ will presumably be
agreeable to most of us. Ed Deevey’s (1967, p.65) observa-
tion that it ‘must rank with the double helix as one of the
most productive suggestions of modern times’ is perhaps too
hyperbolic for some, but it was written before the explosion
in molecular biology and we should credit pollen analysis
with its achievements and potential. If the field should be
in danger of hubris, it might harken also to critical voices
(Welinder 1988; Kullman 2001, 2008).
An appreciation of the paths taken within disciplines can
be gleaned by historiographical study, whereby we examine
the ways that things are written, presented, interpreted and
even ignored. As pollen analysis passes its centenary (Birks
etal. 2016; Edwards etal. 2017), it seems pertinent to look
at some of the elements of this journey. This is illustrated
mainly with reference to the beginnings of the discipline
within its Scandinavian homeland and within the Brit-
ish Isles—a geographical and temporal focus which is not
intended to downplay the great contributions from elsewhere
or in later times. The selection of these areas reflects the
hearth of the pollen method (Sweden) and its early adoption
within a European arena with which the author is familiar.
Archival data exist for both areas, although such evidence
has yet to be quarried comprehensively. These histories
involve biographies, personalities and actions. Aspects of
some of these are presented because they have been forgot-
ten—if they were ever seriously known—by many current
practitioners.
As we shall see, Gustaf Lagerheim was a seminal influ-
ence on Lennart von Post, the purported father of pollen
analysis. Lagerheim, a Swede, contributed pollen data to
research by botanist Gunnar Samuelsson in Great Britain
and geologist Nils Holst in Sweden at a time in the early
20th century when the formulation of the pollen method was
being promulgated. In spite of this symbiotic use of pollen
Communicated by H. J. B. Birks.
* Kevin J. Edwards
kevin.edwards@abdn.ac.uk
1 Departments ofGeography andEnvironment
andArchaeology, School ofGeosciences, University
ofAberdeen, Elphinstone Road, AberdeenAB243UF, UK
2 Clare Hall, University ofCambridge, Herschel Road,
CambridgeCB39AL, UK
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320 Vegetation History and Archaeobotany (2018) 27:319–335
1 3
(and spore) data by botanists and geologists, there has arisen
a perception that the field developed dichotomously—first
geologically and then botanically/ecologically. This surmise
is scrutinized.
The practitioners mentioned so far have all been men, but
women played a vital role in the history of pollen analysis.
Arguably, they have not been the invisible brigade which has
suffused other scientific fields. Social considerations of a dif-
ferent sort might be expected in wartime and this is explored
in terms of Quaternary pollen-analytical output during and
either side of the Second World War. In spite of the disrup-
tion caused by global hostilities, a continuity of productivity
is evident, although this was interrupted for some countries
as the conflict endured.
The opportunity is also taken to navigate professional
relationships. In order to appreciate more fully the cast of
characters, this treatment will sometimes address areas of
their lives which are not strictly palynological. Constraints
of space mean that this account must be highly selective
and it is hoped that some encouragement will be provided
for others to delve into the little-explored, but multi-faceted
‘archives’ of palynology.
Gustaf Lagerheim, Lennart von Post, akey
proclamation andother beginnings
Ernst Jakob Lennart von Post (1884–1951; Figs.1, 2) was
state geologist in Uppsala and latterly Professor of Geology
in Stockholm (Manten 1967). He is credited with formal-
ising the pollen-analytical method, but he cannot be said
to have formulated it. This is most consistently stated to
have been his mentor, Nils Gustaf Lagerheim (1860–1926;
Fig.2), Professor of Botany in Stockholm, who ‘did not pub-
lish anything on pollen analysis’ but was its ‘spiritual father’
(Erdtman 1943, p.5). Lagerheim’s pollen counts were incor-
porated in a monograph by Nils Olof Holst (1846–1918;
Holst 1909, p. 30) of the Swedish Geological Survey where
we are told (translation from Erdtman 1943, pp. 4–5):
...a reliable method with which to follow, step by step,
from one layer to another the immigration of all plants
whose pollen or spores are preserved as well as the rel-
ative frequency of these species. When the rate of for-
mation of all the different layers can be determined, it
will also be possible to calculate the speed with which
the plants in question immigrated.
This would seem to be the basis of translations and para-
phrases which also appear in von Post (1918, p. 440; transla-
tion von Post 1967, p. 383), Selling (1951, p. 280), Manten
(1967, pp. 17–18) and Mitchell (1984, p. 25). It is not a
great stretch of the imagination to see that the foregoing
quotation is probably also the origin of von Post’s (1946)
later unsourced comment (pp. 196–197) that:
…by examining statistically a series of beds, layer by
layer, the fossil pollen rain, which composes the “pol-
len floras” or “pollen spectra”, of the respective layers,
we can follow from period to period the changes in the
woodland geography of the region.
The statement in Holst (1909) is perhaps the key procla-
mation for pollen methodology. Manten (1967, pp.17–18)
is ambiguous as to whether the suggestion came from
Lagerheim or Holst, though the original Host text seems
clear—‘såsom LAGERHEIM själf framhåller’ (‘as LAGER-
HEIM himself emphasizes’) (Holst 1909, p. 30). Holst had
approached Lagerheim to carry out pollen studies and it was
also Holst who advanced ideas on the migration of Picea
and on the value of pollen as opposed to plant macrofossils
alone. The end pages of Erdtman’s (1943) An introduction
to pollen analysis contain portraits of Holst as well as Lager-
heim and von Post (1946, pp. 231, 233, 235). It might be
noted that Erdtman (1943, pp. 6–7) devoted five paragraphs
to the 1905 thesis of German natural scientist Ulrich Steus-
loff (1883–1953; Schlickum 1953), while Selling’s (1951)
obituary of von Post also recorded that Steusloff had been on
the same track as Lagerheim without further development of
the idea (‘varit inne på samma banor utan att I huvudfrågan
komma längre’; p. 280).
Fig. 1 Drawing of Lennart von Post by Carl Benedicks, Center for
History of Sciences, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
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321Vegetation History and Archaeobotany (2018) 27:319–335
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Even though there were many forebears (cf Erdtman
1943; Fægri and Iversen 1950; Manten 1966), what is clear
is that von Post pioneered the use of the pollen diagram and
was responsible for much besides. This is simply shown by
a perusal of the topics which he addressed in his 1918 paper
as well as in his Vega Medal Lecture to the Swedish Soci-
ety for Anthropology and Geography (von Post 1944, 1946)
(Table1). These contributions represent factual, methodo-
logical and conceptual milestones in the discipline.
The first pollen diagrams were produced in another
1916 article (von Post 1916b; Nordlund 2014). It was
Fries (1967), however, who presented a monochrome
photograph showing von Post’s original wall-chart which
had consisted of a series of hand-coloured, selected taxa
curves from a transect of peat bog sites stretching from
Denmark in the south to the northern oak border in south-
central Sweden. The supposed Grenzhorizont (Weber
1900) formed a synchronous datum. It is surprising that
von Post’s innovative graphical concept was not published
in his paper—was it too novel, or, as communicated to
John Birks by Knut Fægri, was it too big to reproduce in
1918 (Birks 2017, pers. comm.)? In any case, a variant of
it appeared a decade later (von Post 1926), where the Dan-
ish site was omitted, but including curves for Carpinus and
the mixed oak forest (Quercus, Tilia and Ulmus).
There is a further ingredient in von Post’s repertoire
which is worthy of comment, and that is his use of mapped
data. Those published by him for southern Sweden in 1924
show a comprehensive concern with tree and shrub commu-
nities and their spatial and chronological dispositions which
would not be out of place today. His proportional circles and
pie-charts adorn no fewer than eight maps which span a time
period from the present [his Fig.6 shows apparent surface
samples (recenta prov; in contrast to subrecenta samples
Fig. 2 Pictures of some of the
early palynologists discussed in
this paper. Sources: Lager-
heim—Svenskt Biografiskt
Lexicon; von Post—Geological
Survey of Sweden; Erdtman—
Jonsell (2007); Woodhead—
Kirklees Museums and Galler-
ies; Raistrick—Alan Butterfield;
Blackburn—Smithsonian
Institution Archives; Kert-
land—drawing by Raymond
Piper, Linton (1977); Godwin—
F.T.N. Elborn, Department of
Plant Sciences, University of
Cambridge; Fraser—University
of Aberdeen (Cameron 2007);
Hyde—Amgueddfa Cymru
National Museum Wales; Jes-
sen—public domain; Mitchell—
Peter Coxon
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322 Vegetation History and Archaeobotany (2018) 27:319–335
1 3
5cm below the surface; von Post 1918, p.451)] back to
Boreal times; these display a level of detail which was not
always surpassed in later exercises.
A geological/botanical dichotomy?
Influenced by the likes of Norwegian botanist and geologist
Axel Gudbrand Blytt (1843–1898; Oslo), Swedish bota-
nist, geologist and archaeologist Johan Rutger Sernander
(1866–1944; Uppsala), and mediated via Lagerheim, von
Post saw the stratigraphical importance of pollen within peat
and other deposits. The pollen spectra though were essen-
tially to be seen as reflecting changing microfossil assem-
blages (which have an ecological significance), but not nec-
essarily correlative with either plant macrofossils or peat
stratigraphy (cf von Post 1967, pp. 380 and 401).
In spite of this, there is a perspective that von Post’s
approach to pollen analysis was constrained because it was
geological and stratigraphic rather than botanical or ecologi-
cal. Thus:
Although limited by being a geologist, he fully saw
that the future development of pollen analysis had
to be thought in the refined morphological and, even
more so, the ecological problems of which he him-
self did not possess a sufficient command (Fægri and
Iversen 1967, p. 377).
…although he was not a botanist, [he showed] the pos-
sibility of throwing valuable, perhaps piloting light
upon plant interrelationships by detailed studies of
their pollen grains and spores (Erdtman 1967, p. 26).
The impression may have been strengthened by von Post
himself, who, inter alia, regarded his new science as pro-
spectively geological in a chronological sense:
Pollen analysis in its present form, or, as it should be
properly called, pollen statistics, since the fundamental
principle of the method is quantitative, was designed
mainly to serve as a means of determining geological
time. (von Post 1946, p. 196)
This, however, is to ignore the ecological perspectives
which pervade von Post’s papers (cf Table1). Apart from
palynological contributions themselves, he also published
phytosociological studies of the Skagershult peat bog (von
Post 1910) in which the first ever Swedish maps of mire veg-
etation were ‘internationally among the first detailed studies
of this kind’ (Manten 1967, p. 17).
In the context of the period in which von Post received his
training, the natural sciences of geology, botany and zoology
were frequently studied together; we have already seen the
multidisciplinary backgrounds of Blytt and Sernander. Von
Post had intended to study zoology at Uppsala, but he came
under the influence of Arvid Gustaf Högbom (1857–1940), a
geologist, and the botanist Lagerheim, as well as having per-
sonal contact with Sernander. He specifically mentions (von
Post 1946, p.213) the palaeobotanist Albert Charles Seward
(1863–1941) whose influential multi-volume Fossil plants
was sub-titled A text-book for students of botany and geology
(Seward 1898–1919). Even the ‘botanist’ Erdtman (1967,
p. 24) ‘joined forces with Lennart von Post in the summer
of 1918. I had been accepted as his assistant among about a
dozen other young botanists and geologists. Fægri (1973, p.
6) may have considered the student to have become the new
botanical ‘Mr. Pollen Analysis…the Grand Master’, but the
student clearly had no qualms mixing it with geologists and
botanists, nor with lauding both in his publications. It is also
worth noting that Knut Fægri and Johannes Iversen, both
botanists, dedicated the first edition (1950) of their seminal
Text-book of modern pollen analysis to Lennart von Post,
‘the grand old man of pollen analysis’.
Britain, Ireland, Scandinavian connections, Gunnar
Erdtman andantecedents
Great Britain had a long palaeobotanical tradition and this
was open to Scandinavian palynological influences at an
early stage. In a Quaternary environmental context, the first
Table 1 Selected themes explored by von Post in his publications dat-
ing to 1918 and 1944
Themes 1918 1944
Earlier workers—Lagerheim, Weber, Früh X
Dating—Grenzhorizon, Blytt-Sernander, archaeology X
Macrofossils insufficient—allochthonous components X
Absence of evidence not definitive—beech, yew X
Sample taphonomy X
Genus not species of taxa X
Pollen preservation X
Counting statistics—size, sample thickness, %, absolute X
Pollen diagrams X
Spatial coverage X
Multiple core—on-site, off-site X
Long distance transport X
Differential migration of woodland X
Empirical/rational limits of palynological data X
Optimization of rare types X
Isotherms and pollen presence X
History of climate, including Milankovitch X
Soil exhaustion X
Model situations X
General laws—regional parallelism X
Global patterns—though must look at data indepen-
dently first
X
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323Vegetation History and Archaeobotany (2018) 27:319–335
1 3
British notice of pollen may have been that of palaeobota-
nists Clement Reid (1853–1916) and his wife Eleanor Mary
Reid (née Wynne Edwards; 1860–1953) who found groups
of stamens with well-preserved pollen grains in dredged
‘moorlog’ from the North Sea’s Dogger Bank (Reid and
Reid 1909) which they subsequently identified as ‘willow-
herb’ (Reid 1913, p. 45). Further work on the site by the
Reids recorded pine pollen (Goodchild 1920) and as will be
shown, the site received later Swedish attention.
The first paper to report pollen from mainland sites in
Britain was that of Stockholm botanist Gunnar Samuels-
son (1885–1944) who presented qualitative pollen data from
the English Pennines, and the Southern Uplands, Grampians
and northwest Highlands of Scotland (Samuelsson 1910).
The pollen analyses were produced by Gustaf Lagerheim,
although the paper is primarily concerned with the develop-
ment of peat stratigraphy and comparisons with the Scandi-
navian efforts of Blytt, Sernander and others. The mode of
reporting barely goes beyond such configurations as ‘Lager-
heim has found pollen grains of birch, hazel, pine, and prob-
ably Empetrum’ (Samuelsson 1910, p. 202).
Similarly terse reports of pollen finds are available. Mar-
jorie Elizabeth Jane Chandler (1897–1983), a Cambridge
palaeobotanist, was a long-time research associate of Elea-
nor Reid after the death of Clement Reid. She found unde-
veloped pollen grains of Armeria arctica in a calyx retrieved
from Lateglacial deposits at Barnwell (Chandler 1921).
By 1922, the work of Otto Gunnar Elias Erdtman
(1897–1973; Fig.2) was coming to the attention of a Brit-
ish audience. London ecologist Edward James Salisbury
(1886–1978) cited the Swede’s (Erdtman 1921) ‘extensive
and fascinating paper’ (Salisbury 1922, p. 554), which was
in fact a monograph and doctoral thesis, and not actually
Erdtman’s first pollen-analytical paper (Erdtman 1920). He
had rapidly obtained his suite of degrees at Stockholm, cul-
minating in his fil. Dr. by the age of 25, reputedly the then
youngest recipient of a doctorate in Sweden (Edlund and
Winthrop 2014). By writing in a world language—German
and more usually English—he, and the science of pollen
analysis, became well known internationally.
Erdtman visited Britain and Ireland during the 1920s.
His short paper (1923) on northern Scotland was, in fact
in Swedish (with a French abstract) and contained no pol-
len diagrams. This was followed by a substantial English
language version in a British journal (Erdtman 1924a),
with 18 rudimentary, low resolution pollen diagrams
showing only arboreal taxa. Even at this stage compari-
sons are made with data from other parts of Europe, pres-
aging Erdtman’s interest in broad-scale generalisations
as would be seen in his 1931 contribution to the history
of hazel forests (Erdtman 1931). His 1924 article (Erdt-
man 1924a) was communicated to the Linnean Society by
Edward Salisbury and offers thanks to Eleanor Reid for
correcting the English. With the Scottish paper in press, he
published a German language article in the same year with
three tree pollen profiles from Ireland (Erdtman 1924b),
a paper on the Isle of Man (Erdtman 1925), and his first
paper on an Irish topic written in English (Erdtman 1927,
which included a single diagram from Co. Mayo which
had been published previously in 1926).
The first paper by a Briton involving more than an obser-
vation on the existence of pollen grains seems to be that
of William Holmes Burrell (1864–1945), retired Norwich
pharmacist, a noted bryologist and honorary curator of the
herbarium at the University of Leeds. Burrell had for some
time been conducting work on Pennine peats along with oth-
ers (Woodhead 1924; Kosanke and Cross 1995). His only
paper on the topic containing palynological observations
appeared in 1924. There he acknowledged an 8-year coop-
eration with the naturalist Christopher Arthington Cheetham
(1875–1954), who supplied the fine photographs of ‘Peat
Organisms’ (including an unrecognised pollen grain which
is clearly Tilia). His summary of results [with ‘micro exami-
nation of peat samples, after treatment by the alkali process
detailed by Mrs E. M. Reid, B.Sc.’ (Burrell 1924, p. 147)]
included Betula and Corylus pollen, both ‘indistinguish-
able’ from each other, Pinus, and spores of Polypodium and
Sphagnum. The pollen evidence suggested to him that the
Pennines were formerly scrub-covered and that sufficient
woodland remained in appropriate habitats to supply the
wind-blown pollen after trees had ceased to grow locally.
He noted the work on peat in the Geology Department at
Leeds by ‘Miss Elsie Whitaker, M.Sc…[who] obtained
new evidence of pine, birch and hazel beneath the peat; it
is regrettable that her thesis has not been made available by
publication’ (Burrell 1924, p. 146). It is unclear from this
whether the research of Elsie Dinah Whitaker (1895–1985;
Mrs Harry Ward) featured pollen [though Woodhead and
Erdtman (1926) say that she did] and her thesis has not
proved traceable. Burrell also hosted a young Wisconsin-
Madison botany/geology student for his junior year (Cross
and Kosanke 1995; Kosanke and Cross 1995). Suitably
inspired by Burrell, who had himself been galvanized after
a visit to Leeds by Erdtman, the trans-Atlantic visitor, Leon-
ard Richard Wilson (1906–1998), went on to become a pio-
neering and distinguished palynologist at the University of
Oklahoma.
Thomas William Woodhead (1863–1940; Fig.2) has been
lauded as a pioneer whose energy, encouragement and influ-
ence in the worlds of ecology, pollen analysis and museum
development were remarkable (Pearsall 1940; Salisbury
1964; Sheail 1988; West 2014). Starting employment as a
woollens salesman, Woodhead took a reduction in salary
to become a lecturer in biology at Huddersfield Technical
College in Yorkshire, from which he was able to under-
take spells of research leave in Bonn, Leeds, London and
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324 Vegetation History and Archaeobotany (2018) 27:319–335
1 3
Cambridge. He was even offered a post in the Botany School
at Cambridge by its then head, Harry Marshall Ward, but
‘felt unable to take up the life’ without a private income
(Sheail 1988, p.126). Huddersfield further granted leave
of absence to undertake study for a doctorate, and on Mar-
shall Ward’s advice he pursued his ecological interests with
geobotanist Karl Joseph Schröter (1855–1939) in Zurich,
being awarded a PhD in a year for a thesis on the ‘Ecology
of woodland plants in the neighbourhood of Huddersfield’
(Woodhead 1906). In a congratulatory letter, Louis Compton
Miall (1842–1921), Professor of Biology at the University
of Leeds, described the research as ‘a capital piece of work.
It is very encouraging to see the sterile publications of our
Yorkshire naturalists are being replaced by investigations of
a truly scientific character’ (22 November 1906, Woodhead
papers). A further letter of congratulation was received from
William Gardner Smith (1866–1928) with whom Woodhead,
along with Charles Edward Moss (1870–1930) and Arthur
George Tansley (1871–1955) had formed the Committee
for the Survey and Study of British Vegetation in 1904,
which was eventually to become the world’s first ecologi-
cal society, the British Ecological Society, founded in 1913
(Sheail 1987). Delivering the Society’s Presidential Address
in 1927 on the history of vegetation in the southern Pen-
nines, in a paper which, in its multi- and inter-disciplinarity
and insights has been described as ‘a landmark in the his-
tory of the subject’ (West 2014, p. 23), Woodhead (1929, p.
17) anticipated that despite methodological uncertainties,
‘pollen-statistics’ would ‘yield results of great importance’.
Erdtman stayed with Woodhead in Huddersfield prior to
October 1925 (Cheetham 1925). The paper they published
together (Woodhead and Erdtman 1926) is significant
because it represents the first paper, with a British author,
to feature pollen diagrams—though it is quite clear that this
is the work of the Swede—while also representing the first
paper which combines archaeological and pollen data. The
minerogenic and peat deposits at the site (Warcock Hill, near
Huddersfield), spanned the Mesolithic and later periods, and
permitted the human story of the south Pennines to be placed
within a more secure and wider environmental context.
An unknown issue is the extent to which Woodhead
himself analysed pollen. Sheail (1988, p. 126) relates an
unsourced quotation saying he turned ‘one large bay win-
dow and half a dozen bottles’ into one of the best equipped
biology departments in the country. A letter from Woodhead
to Erdtman mentions a sample from Lower Halstow in the
Thames Valley and ‘We find in it Birch pollen grains’ (17
May 1927, Woodhead papers). Another letter sent 14 Octo-
ber 1931 (see below) notes his lack of facilities for this.
Given the formality of correspondence between pro-
fessionals at this time, it is possible to discern a warmth
between Woodhead and Erdtman. Woodhead sometimes
addresses the Scandinavian as ‘My dear Erdtman, Erdtman
thanks Woodman for his assistance with correcting the Eng-
lish of manuscripts, and they both look forward to re-meet-
ing in London. There is a poignancy in a letter to Erdtman
sent on 14 October 1931 (Woodhead papers):
When in London recently I was very pleased to hear
about you from Prof. Fries…During the past year I
have had many difficulties to contend with which have
greatly interfered with my work, but I have always had
you and your work in mind…several students are now
at work on our peat moors…I am in touch with most of
these, and if you had the time to help and guide them
I am sure some good would come out of their efforts.
I have not now the facilities to carry on pollen analy-
ses but I can do something to encourage the younger
ones…we need your expert knowledge to see the work
is done in a reliable way.
Harry Godwin [Professor Sir Harry Godwin (1901–1985;
Fig.2) and Britain’s most influential and energetic Quater-
nary palaeoecologist of the era], was later to write (God-
win 1981, p. 17) that his interest in acid mires ‘was sharply
encouraged by a visit to the Cambridge Botany Club of the
wise and homely figure of Dr. T. W. Woodhead…a formi-
dable pioneer ecologist’.
In a letter dated 14 March 1932, Woodhead tells Erdt-
man that ‘Perhaps two of our most active workers on peat
are Dr. Raistrick and his colleague, Dr. Blackburn’. Arthur
Raistrick (1896–1991; Fig.2) has been termed ‘Britain’s
premier palynologist’ (Marshall 2005) in recognition of his
original and pioneering contribution to a discipline which
he had abandoned by the start of the Second World War; he
was declared ‘The Dalesman of the Millennium’ thereafter
(Brown 2013). Raistrick was a socialist, a Quaker, a pacifist
and an apprenticed engineer in Bradford. As a conscientious
objector during the First World War, his employment was
terminated, he refused conscription and was imprisoned in
solitary confinement with hard labour, experiencing bullying
and beating. In 1919 he was accepted by Newcastle Uni-
versity and degrees in engineering were followed by a PhD
in glacial geology. Raistrick was lacking in full-time paid
employment, but occupied himself with teaching for adult
classes, contract work on coal-field geology, and publishing
papers on glacial geomorphology and prehistoric, histori-
cal and industrial archaeology. At some stage in the 1920s,
Raistrick and Woodhead became acquainted and in their
joint paper on plant remains in postglacial ‘gravels’ near
Leeds, they record that ‘careful microscopic examination
of the material failed to reveal any pollen grains’ (Raistrick
and Woodhead 1930, p.40), though Burrell identified some
mosses and there were many tree remains.
In 1929 Raistrick was invited to apply for a lectureship in
applied geology at Newcastle. In addition to ground-break-
ing research on the palynological correlation of coal-seams
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325Vegetation History and Archaeobotany (2018) 27:319–335
1 3
(Raistrick and Simpson 1933; Raistrick 1938), he began
working with Kathleen Bever Blackburn (1892–1968;
Fig.2), primarily a cytologist, of the botany department
(Valentine 1970; Hart 2017). Blackburn had acquired a
knowledge of pollen analysis by visiting von Post in Sweden
(Lunn 1983); this was ‘common knowledge among her col-
leagues in the Botany Department of what was then King’s
College, Newcastle’ (Angus Lunn 2017, pers. comm.). The
Blackburn–Raistrick collaboration resulted in a series of
papers on the Pennines and the English Lake District (e.g.
Raistrick and Blackburn 1931, 1932, 1933)—part of a plan
to produce pollen profiles on a 10-mile grid (Raistrick 1932;
Marshall 2005); ‘Such a scheme provides room for co-oper-
ation of local workers’ (Raistrick 1932, p. 181). In their 1932
paper, Raistrick and Blackburn thank Woodhead and Erdt-
man for their ‘constant interest and suggestions’ and Harry
Godwin ‘for assistance in the field’ (Raistrick and Blackburn
1932, p. 102; cf; Fisher 1975). Godwin himself makes no
reference to this early involvement (Godwin 1981, 1985).
As a pacifist, Raistrick refused to register for army teach-
ing or research work during the Second World War (at the
age of 43 at the outbreak of war he was 2years beyond the
age of conscription) and he was partly ostracized socially.
He did some informal teaching, published magazine articles
on past and present life in the Yorkshire Dales and wrote
the popular Teach Yourself Geology (Raistrick 1943). After
the war, and especially in retirement, he became heavily
involved with the National Parks Movement and the Youth
Hostel Association. In 1974, at the instigation of the Prime
Minister Harold Wilson, Raistrick was offered the Order of
the British Empire (O.B.E.). This he declined with some
eloquence (DNB 2004):
As a lifelong member of the Independent Labour Party
I have frequently spoken against the system of the hon-
ours list. I feel that I cannot at this time break my prin-
ciples and accept the prime minister’s suggestion. My
thanks for the thought so expressed are no less sincere
and I shall value this gesture more than I could value
the honour itself.
We do not know who produced the pollen data reported
by Burrell (1924)—whether him, Cheetham or Whitaker—
but, in 1926, the year that Woodhead was publishing pol-
len data and diagrams with and by Erdtman, another Briton
was publishing self-generated pollen data. Charles Beard
Travis (1878–1949), a clerk and local stalwart of the Liv-
erpool Geological Society, was in communication with
Ertdtman and presented pollen from coastal peat beds in
Lancashire for which ‘I am alone responsible’ (Travis 1926,
p. 267). Owing to a lack of variation in the spectra, ‘I have
not thought it necessary to construct any diagrams show-
ing graphically the composition of the pollen-flora’ (Travis
1926, p. 269). Percentages for tree pollen were presented
along with presence/absence data for some herbs and cryp-
togam spores. This approach bears strong similarities to one
of Travis’s later articles (1929).
Research involving palynology in the Department of Bot-
any of The Queen’s University of Belfast was fostered by
James Small (1889–1955), Professor of Botany, who com-
municated with Erdtman in 1926 and 1927. It seems likely
that the first paper to feature pollen diagrams derived from
their own data from these islands was produced by Mary
Patricia Happer Kertland (1902–1991; Fig.2), doyen of the
Belfast Naturalists’ Field Club and curator of the herbarium
at Queen’s (Linton 1992). Kertland (1928) presented pollen
data from the summit of Divis, close to Belfast. Interestingly,
Small had submitted two duplicate samples to Erdtman from
Divis, on Kertland’s behalf, producing similar results. The
diagram contained only a restricted range of tree and shrub
taxa, but she made useful, albeit limited observations on
the sources of the pollen. The latter topic also applies to the
paper by J. I. Armstrong, J. Calvert and Cecil Terence Ingold
(1905–2010; he went on to become a distinguished mycolo-
gist) on the ecology of the Mountains of Mourne (Armstrong
etal. 1930). This trio of Queen’s botanists presented concen-
tration as well as relative data (though no pollen diagram),
and inferred that the tree pollen had been transported to the
site by wind—‘It appears to us that for the reconstruction of
the old tree line in a mountain region only evidence based
on wood embedded in the peat is of any value’ (p. 451). A
further Queen’s botanist was Jean (Jeanne) Margaret White
(born 1919 in Co. Leitrim) who also presented concentration
and relative pollen data (including a percentage diagram)
associated with a Neolithic skeleton embedded in peat in
Co. Galway (White 1931).
Margaret Elizabeth Godwin (née Daniels; 1898–1989)
was encouraged to undertake pollen-analytical research by
Arthur Tansley (the latter was then Professor of Botany at
Oxford having previously studied psychology in Vienna
with Sigmund Freud after a period as lecturer in botany in
London and Cambridge). This fortuitous suggestion, partly
a result of Tansley’s awareness of Erdtman’s research (God-
win 1985, p. 155), was to have far-reaching consequences.
Margaret Godwin’s forays into palynology were always
published with husband Harry (e.g. Godwin and Godwin
1933a, 1940), who had become her research collaborator.
Kathleen Blackburn is thanked ‘for her helpful advice on
the technique of pollen analysis’ in one of their early papers
(Godwin and Godwin 1933b, p. 180).
The Godwins’ adoption of the technique, and its energetic
expansion from the Botany School at Cambridge, was to be
helped by the formation of The Fenland Research Commit-
tee in 1932 (with Seward as President, prehistorian Grahame
Clark as Secretary and the Godwins as palaeobotanists). It
represented a turning-point in environmentally-informed
archaeology (Smith 1997), as did the subsequent creation in
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326 Vegetation History and Archaeobotany (2018) 27:319–335
1 3
Cambridge of the Sub-department of Quaternary Research
under the direction of the Departments of Botany, Geology
and Archaeology (and later Geography) in 1948 (Godwin
1981; Edwards 1986a; West 2014).
Likewise, the field received a major boost in the Republic
of Ireland after the formation of The Committee for Quater-
nary Research in Ireland (Praeger etal. 1934). The Com-
mittee noted Erdtman’s visits to Ireland in 1922 and 1926;
indeed several members had corresponded with the Swede—
natural historian Robert Lloyd Praeger, geologists John Kaye
Charlesworth and Timothy Hallissy, and archaeologists
Claude Blake Whelan and Adolf Mahr. On the recommen-
dation of Norwegian botanist Rolf Nordhagen, Knud Jessen
(1884–1971; Fig.2), Professor of Botany at Copenhagen
who had been taught to identify pollen by Lagerheim (Tro-
els-Smith 1975), was invited to carry out fieldwork and to
train promising students. During field sessions in 1934 and
1935, ‘a younger Irish worker was in attendance throughout,
for the longest time Mr G. F. MICHELL and for shorter
periods Mr T. MAHER and Mr C. J. LA TOUCHE’ (Jessen
1949, p.88). George Francis (‘Frank’) Mitchell (1912–1997;
Fig.2) accompanied Jessen ‘in the dual capacity of cou-
rier and brain-picker’ (Mitchell 1976, p. 12). He went on to
become an internationally known palynologist and Quater-
nary scientist, establishing Trinity College Dublin’s reputa-
tion in this field (Mitchell 1940, 1951, 1956, 1990; Watts and
West 1999; Watts 2008). Thomas Maher seems not to have
published, while La Touche (1936) engaged to the extent of
producing a note on Carpinus pollen in Irish peat for Nature.
As for Jessen, he published, or contributed to various papers
(e.g. Mahr 1934; Jessen 1936; Jessen and Farrington 1938)
prior to the appearance of his much delayed treatise on Ire-
land’s Late Quaternary deposits (Jessen 1949).
It is noteworthy that most of the British and Irish work-
ers mentioned thus far exchanged letters with Erdtman (and
not to overlook the von Post-Blackburn connection). This
is also the case with Birmingham mycologist Charles Ged-
des Coull Chesters (1904–1993) who was communicating
with Erdtman in 1929 and had his identifications checked by
the Swede with the results published 2years later (Chesters
1931).
Harold Augustus Hyde (1892–1973; Harrison 1974;
Fig.2), Keeper of Botany at the National Museum of Wales,
Cardiff, kept up a long correspondence with Harry Godwin
and an occasional one with Erdtman, but seems to have been
largely self-taught in pollen analysis, having graduated from
Cambridge before the Second World War. His first paper
involving pollen analysis appeared in 1936 in which he
acknowledges Blackburn and Godwin for advice on methods
(Hyde 1936). He worked with Godwin and Frank Mitch-
ell at Tregaron Bog, along with Blackburn (Godwin and
Mitchell 1938, p. 426). He was joint originator of the word
palynology (Hyde and Williams 1944) and he turned full-
time to aeropalynology after retirement (Hyde and Adams
1958).
A link to Scotland relates to perhaps the first ever Chinese
palynologist. Su Ting (1913–2000) was corresponding with
Erdtman from the beginning of 1935. His pollen work on the
Isle of Bute is contained in an appendix to his PhD thesis
which was the first by a Chinese national at the University
of Glasgow (Ting 1937). He was to later publish a paper
on Chinese pollen (Ting 1949) and to become Professor
of Geography at California State University, Los Angeles,
where he was known as William S. Ting (e.g. Ting 1965;
Edwards and Mao unpublished).
At a discussion meeting of the Royal Society of Lon-
don in 1935, Godwin had presented data on postglacial
floras (Seward etal. 1935). In response, John Baird Simp-
son (1894–1960) of the Geological Survey of Scotland
reported that he had carried out pollen analyses of a sub-
merged forest-bed beneath a raised beach peat from Bridge
of Earn, Perthshire, and the results agreed with those of
Erdtman from a similar context, but different locality. More
importantly, he questioned the contemporaneity of vegeta-
tional changes ‘if the zones have merely followed up the
ice-retreat…in widely separated north and south localities
in Britain’ (Seward etal. 1935, p. 232), thus anticipating
later considerations of time-trangressiveness (e.g. Smith
and Pilcher 1973). Simpson also worked on pre-Quaternary
pollen floras (Simpson 1934, 1961).
An exception to the ‘Erdtman connection’ is George
Knowles Fraser (born 1891 in Aberdeenshire; Fig.2) who
obtained the first degree in forestry at the University of
Aberdeen in 1919. Fraser went on to lecture in the sub-
ject at the University, joining ecologist Alexander Stuart
Watt (later of Cambridge), before moving to the Macaulay
Institute for Soil Research. His study on moorlands and
peat growth (Fraser 1933) ‘remains the basis for clas-
sification of peat covered land types in Scottish forestry’
(Wood 1974, p. 17). Of greater relevance here is that he
trained with von Post in 1936—indeed, a portion of his
Aberdeenshire Strichen Moss diagram represented Scot-
land in von Post’s Vega Lecture paper (1946, p. 202). The
same site first appeared as an unnamed pollen profile (his
Fig.4) in PartI of a ‘Wartime Pamphlet’ (Fraser 1943),
although it was most usefully published along with a site
from western Scotland after his death (Fraser and God-
win 1955). Fraser, with Blackburn, would appear to be
the only British researcher to have worked in von Post’s
laboratory.
In 1932 and 1933, Mrs Florence Nellie Campbell
James (née Vobes; 1880–1934) had conducted pollen-
analytical and stratigraphic investigations associated with
the submerged forests of Cardigan Bay. Unfortunately
she died before submitting her thesis to the Department
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327Vegetation History and Archaeobotany (2018) 27:319–335
1 3
of Botany at Aberystwyth, and a paper on her work was
published by Harry Godwin and Lily Newton (née Bat-
ten; 1893–1981) in 1938 (Godwin and Newton 1938).
There are a number of additional workers who seem to
have produced no more than one pollen-related contribu-
tion in this early period. This is so for a trio of papers
on Welsh sites. Norman Woodhead [1903–1978; with a
curiosity in ley lines (Stout 2009)] and L. M. Hodgson
(Woodhead and Hodgson 1935; see also; Hodgson 1933)
of Bangor presented data from 17 peat sites in Snowdo-
nia, including coarsely-sampled arboreal pollen profiles.
Of interest was their consideration of statistical sampling
errors, tree-line altitudes, climate change and the absence
of archaeological dating material. In 1945, E. G. Davies
(Botany, Aberystwyth) produced an ecological, erosional
and stratigraphic study of an upland bog in Cardiganshire
under the supervision of Lily Newton (and part of a larger
scheme of work ‘which of necessity has been temporarily
postponed’ (Davies 1945, p.166) presumably as a result
of the War). This contained otherwise unpublished pollen
profiles by Dr J. B. Jones of the same Department.
In 1939, Arthur Roy Clapham (1904–1990), then an
Oxford botanist and originator of the word ‘ecosystem’
as suggested to Tansley (Willis 1997), produced a paper
on a valley fen in Berkshire with his wife Brenda North
Clapham (née Stoessiger; 1903–1985) (Clapham and
Clapham 1939). Brenda was originally a statistician (a
student of Karl Pearson) and their initials appear jointly
on the site’s pollen diagram, while Godwin is thanked
for advice. Also in 1939, E. M. Hardy (Cambridge) pub-
lished a study of Shropshire mosses, and a year later,
H. C. Bibby (1940) of Chesterfield Grammar School,
looked at inter-tidal peats, the orientation of associated
tree trunks and the pollen content (Godwin is thanked,
with others, for advice).
Women inBritish palynology prior totheend
ofWorld War II
It is well recognised that women, in retrospect at least, can
appear to be barely visible in the world of science (Fara
2004; Shetterly 2016). This has not afflicted palynology in
quite the same way (cf Hart 2007, although the article con-
tains inaccuracies). Lennart von Post’s second wife Selma
Therese Constance (Tofsy) Guldbrand (1895–1990) was
obviously involved in pollen counting for her husband, but
her credits go little beyond acknowledgements in the cap-
tions to figures of pollen diagrams (von Post 1924). Within
Britain and Ireland, and leaving aside Eleanor Reid and Mar-
jorie Chandler, whose dalliances with pollen were restricted
to casual observations of the existence of pollen, and who
went on to have distinguished careers in palaeobotany, there
are at least 11 women who were involved in palynology up
to the termination of the Second World War.
Mention has already been made of Elsie Whitaker, Mary
Kertland, Kathleen Blackburn, Jane White, Florence Camp-
bell James, Brenda Clapham and Margaret Godwin. One
published female palynologist yet to be cited is Elizabeth
May Knox (née Henderson; 1899–1963) of Edinburgh.
Although she only appears to have published one paper
concerning a Quaternary age site, and that after the war
(Knox 1954), she was producing articles on coal-measure
spores for many years (e.g. Knox 1938). More central to
Quaternary concerns is Winifred Anne Pennington [Mrs T.
G. Tutin (‘Mrs T’); 1915–2007; Birks and Birks 2007] who
‘was hooked on pollen for life’ after listening to a lecture
by Harry Godwin in 1938 (DNB 2011). Her earliest pollen
data took the form of noting the presence of major arboreal
types in cores from Windermere (Jenkin etal. 1941; Pen-
nington 1943). Her first substantial contribution to palynol-
ogy comprised the study of multiple lake sediment profiles
(Pennington 1947).
All the above have authorship of papers other than Flor-
ence Campbell James and Elsie Whitaker. A further name
becomes evident from the archives in a letter from Godwin
to Hyde. The latter, involved in atmospheric pollen studies,
had mentioned to Godwin ‘that Kathleen Blackburn is sup-
posed to be doing a pollen atlas; we do not want to cut in or
duplicate her work’ (letter dated 9 December 1941, Hyde
papers). Godwin replied (letter dated 12 December 1941):
About Miss Blackburn; along with many other jobs she
has had the pollen atlas on the stocks for many years. I
think like the rest it will be still-born and if I were you
I should ignore it…The wife of P. W. Richards (who
works here) for some time did pollen work related to
airborne pollen in the Fenland but never published it.
She may possibly get it together sometime so as to be
of use to you.
This refers to Sarah Anne Richards (née Hotham;
1910–2007) who married Paul Westmacott Richards in
1935, a tropical rainforest ecologist who went on to become
Professor of Botany in Bangor, and who dipped into pal-
aeoecology himself (Godwin and Richards 1946). In addi-
tion there is Hilda Marion Parkes (1916–1992; Mitchell
and Scannell 1995), originally trained as a geographer, who
counted pollen for Frank Mitchell between 1945 and the
early 1950s. Although praised by Michell (1951), no pol-
len papers seem to bear her name for the period considered
in this section. Later, there was a palynological appendix
related to an excavation (Parkes and Bradshaw 1988), a post-
humous article based on her uncompleted PhD thesis (Parkes
and Mitchell 2000), and she did publish other items (e.g.
Mitchell and Parkes 1949; Parkes 1975).
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328 Vegetation History and Archaeobotany (2018) 27:319–335
1 3
If invisibility is defined as absence of authorship, then
most of the aforementioned do not qualify. If it is a relative
observation, for instance in terms of less published output
than males, then that may be the case although a comprehen-
sive analysis of this would need to consider career options
and choices. There is no question, however, that at various
times, but arguably beyond palynology, anti-feminist resent-
ment has been strongly apparent (Boney 1995; Köbl-Ebert
and Turner 2016).
Wartime
The Swede von Post had delivered his seminal lecture in
Oslo in 1916, the middle of the First World War. Sweden
and Norway were both officially neutral during the conflict.
Erdtman (1967, p. 24) reminisced that he had ‘joined forces
with Lennart von Post in the summer of 1918…in order to
take part in a survey aiming at the calculation of the amount
and value of the peat deposits in southern Sweden. The sur-
vey was made because it was war’.
Globally, academic productivity related to the discipline
gradually increased until the outbreak of the Second World
War when it seems to have undergone a sharp decline (Man-
ten 1970). For the main protagonists, as well as those coun-
tries that remained neutral or were occupied, it is perhaps
instructive to consider the fate of their scientific output.
Figure3 shows numbers of publications primarily for Qua-
ternary palynology in a range of countries for the period
1930–1955. The data have not been normalised, but even
allowing for the differences in relative productivity between
countries and assuming that papers published in 1940 may
have been accepted before the start of hostilities in 1939,
there are clear falls in output in Sweden, Russia and the
United Kingdom. There is variability in The Netherlands
but a decline when compared to pre- and post-war levels.
France experienced an initial fall, although an increase as the
war continued. The levels of output for Norway, Denmark
and Finland (other than for 1945) hold up well. Germany’s
production of papers declines markedly from 1943. In the
USA there was an increase through most of the war years
and a sharp drop only in 1945.
None of the above really highlights the suffering and dif-
ficulties of individuals. We have already seen how two world
wars affected the life of Arthur Raistrick. At a more trivial
level, work clearly continued in many institutions throughout
much of the Second World War. Godwin, who was too old
for conscription at the outset of war, wrote to Hyde: ‘Though
there is some dislocation, Cambridge is fairly undisturbed
still. I feel my field-work may suffer seriously from lack of
transport before long’ (28 December 1939, Hyde papers). In
his tribute to Johannes Iversen (1904–1971), Godwin (1973,
p. 1,245) said:
I recall vividly the thrill with which I received clan-
destinely through Sweden, in the dark days of the war,
his monumental paper ‘Land occupation in Denmark’s
Stone Age’ (Iversen 1941), and remember how it dra-
matically confirmed my own tentative hypotheses on
the origins of the East Anglian ‘Breckland’.
This is reminiscent of some Continental geographers who
experienced ‘a seeming normality…an accommodation to
the circumstances of war’ (Withers 2015, p. 91). At the same
time, Godwin (1973) wrote of Dane Knud Jessen ‘turning
their facilities to advantage in resistance to war-time occupa-
tion’ (p. 1,248).
The Polish palynologist Władysław Szafer (1886–1970)
had an eventful wartime and post-War/Cold War history
(Szafer 2017). As an officer in the Polish Legion and fol-
lowing a refusal to take an oath to the Emperor of Austria
Franz Josef I in 1914, he was demoted and conscripted into
the Austrian army. After the Nazis closed the Jagiellonian
University in 1939, he served as rector of its clandestine
manifestation in Krakow. He was re-instated as Professor of
Botany after the war, only to find himself ‘an enemy of the
system’ in the Communist era because of his ‘intransigent
stance’ on Lysenkoism. Today there are public monuments
to Szafer in Krakow and Zawoja, many schools and streets
bearing his name, and medals in his name awarded to at
least two Quaternary palynologists (John Birks, Magdalena
Ralska-Jasiewiczowa).
Erdtman, who had continued to maintain extensive letter-
writing during the war, ‘described schemes to evade postal
laws on printed matter, so that…[a] book could be passed
through two countries before reaching Sweden, or a pre-
cious reprint could be loaned to a colleague’ (Edlund and
Winthrop 2014, p. 3). Previously he had communicated
with Adolf Mahr, Keeper of Antiquities (later Director) in
the National Museum of Ireland, concerning archaeologi-
cal matters and the purchase of a peat corer. There is no
evidence that Erdtman was aware that Mahr, an Austrian
citizen, was Gruppenleiter of the Dublin branch of the Nazi
Party which he had joined in 1933 [he underwent denazi-
fication in Germany after the war but was never allowed
to return to Ireland (Mullins 2007)]. Jessen did provide a
report for a site in Monaghan published by Mahr, although
this was instigated by archaeologist Seán O’Ríordáin (Mahr
1934). One of Jessen’s two pollen-counting assistants, Hag-
bard Jonassen (‘Jonas’; the other being K.M. Eriksen), a
keen pacifist, ‘found it difficult not to explode when having
to listen to Mahr’s fascist tirades’ (Mitchell 1990, p. 14).
Perhaps the most bizarre happenstance surrounds the
publication of a paper on Cold Fell in the northern Pennines,
where the author Joh. Precht (1953, p. 44) tells us that:
It is based on investigations carried out whilst the
author was a prisoner of war in the north of England…
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329Vegetation History and Archaeobotany (2018) 27:319–335
1 3
The author would like to express his gratitude to Miss
K. B. Blackburn…who always encouraged his work.
The paper had originally been submitted to New Phytolo-
gist in German, re-written by Godwin upon receipt of an
English version, and finally recommended for a local jour-
nal by fellow editor Arthur Clapham (Alan Hart 2017, pers.
comm.).
Whatever else these snippets reveal, they demonstrate that
palynologists, like all people, did not live in hermetically
sealed bubbles.
Biographies, genealogies andinfluences
Many ideas and approaches in palynology have had an
early and/or long genesis. It is also apparent that today’s
palynologists are part of an extended disciplinary genealogy
that reflects a complicated web of people, influences and
Fig. 3 Numbers of publica-
tions (y-axis, note variable
scales) in Quaternary palynol-
ogy appearing within selected
countries between 1930 and
1955 (years shown on the x-axis
of the global data set). The red
histogram bars denote the years
of World War II (1939–1945).
Data extracted from Erdtman’s
‘Literature on pollen statistics’
series in the journal Geologiska
Föreningen i Stockholm Förhan-
dlingar apart from the global
data set which is derived from
Fig.2 in Manten (1970)
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330 Vegetation History and Archaeobotany (2018) 27:319–335
1 3
networks. Discerning the structure of these interrelation-
ships can involve historiography, bibliometrics and oral his-
tory. Other fields are well versed in considering their disci-
plinary legacies (e.g. Simms 1982; Gargiulo etal. 2016), but
this is perhaps less so in palynology (Edwards 1983, 1986b)
although instances of introspection, tribute, and more formal
deliberations are to be found (e.g. Iversen 1954; Haworth
and Lund 1984; Mitchell 1990; Edwards 1992; Birks 1993,
2017; Watts 2008; West 2014, 2017; Riding and Dettman
2014; Riding etal. 2016).
Just as family connections and family trees are grist to
the mill of genealogists, this can be so for academic sub-
jects. A start to the process for Quaternary palynology might
be seen in ‘A summary of some of the major interactions
and influences within Quaternary pollen analysis in Fen-
noscandia in the last 50 years’ (Fig.1 in Birks 2005). Birks
declares, reasonably, that his paper ‘makes no attempt to be
exhaustive and inevitably reflects my personal interests and
biases’ (p. 2). Such constructions are inevitably a question
of scale, temporality and compromise, and they are limited
by authorial knowledge. The potential complexities are illus-
trated by Fig.4 which, for the period up to the end of 1945,
presents some of the associations detailed in this paper or
which are evident from archives and publications. Although
superficially nuanced, it is not possible to be sure that the
intricacies of the relationships are accurately portrayed.
Indeed, the researchers involved may be unsure about all the
relevant influences which may only come into perspective
many years after work is published; such insights may only
be apparent if autobiographical accounts are produced, as a
result of interviews or of historiographical research. In terms
of what is depicted in Fig.4, the position of von Post and
Erdtman as ‘hubs’ is clear. That of von Post stems very much
from his catalytic role within the discipline and although,
as we have seen, he acknowledges other workers, he may
have been less susceptible, or had less need in terms of the
nature of his research, to being influenced by them. Erdtman
benefitted from publishing in world languages, and being
both an assiduous correspondent and a highly motivated sci-
entist. For the United Kingdom, with influence beyond [e.g.
doctoral students Joakim Donner (Finland), Vishnu-Mittre
(India), Suzanne Duigan (Australia)], Harry Godwin was
eventually to inherit this role from Erdtman, and this would
have become even more apparent had the timeframe been
extended towards the present.
Such research can reveal contradictions or apparent lapses
in memory. Erdtman’s thesis research was published in Arkiv
für Botanik, having been communicated to the journal by
Lagerheim and Sernander on 1 June 1921. The thesis was
defended in November 1921 with Lagerheim and von Post
as opponents. Chapter3 was called ‘Die pollenanalytische
Methode nach L. von Post’ (Erdtman 1921, p. 15) and Erdt-
man (1943, p. 5) was later to say that Lagerheim did not
object to the title of ‘Die pollenanalytische Arbeitsmethode
Fig. 4 Interactions and influences between early Scandinavian, British and Irish Quaternary palynologists up to the end of 1945. Names in
parentheses indicate influences rather than individual pollen analysts
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331Vegetation History and Archaeobotany (2018) 27:319–335
1 3
nach L. VON POST’ [sic.], although some 18 years later,
he (Erdtman) regretted that he did not ‘render LAGER-
HEIM due justice’ (Erdtman 1943). In his 1967 retrospec-
tive, Erdtman said (p.25) that the chapter was headed ‘The
Pollen-analytical method according to Lagerheim and von
Post’ and that ‘Neither of them objected’. Was Erdtman re-
writing history in 1967 in order to right a wrong, or simply
misremembering?
What such efforts can reveal is the ‘colour’ and person-
alities of palynological practitioners, negative, positive or
simply interesting. Thus, a notable aspect of von Post’s influ-
ential papers was his willingness to acknowledge the work
of others, especially those who came before him. He was
perhaps less charitable when it came to citation of those
following him. In his Vega Lecture paper (von Post 1944,
1946), the only mention of Erdtman and that other pollen-
analytical giant Johs. Iversen is when both appear hidden in
the depths of a substantial caption within the final figure of
the article.
There certainly seems to have been a longstanding frosti-
ness between von Post and Erdtman (Fægri 1973, p.6):
The sad story of two strong personalities who proved
to be incompatible. And the academic world being like
it is everywhere, Gunnar Erdtman had to be the loser.
After receiving a complimentary letter from von Post
concerning his ‘pollen bible’ (Erdtman 1943), Erdtman sent
a letter to his editor Frans Verdoorn (1944, in response to a
letter dated 26 January, Erdtman papers):
Godwin, in his review in Nature, was very content with
the book, and so is my (previously) bitter and violent
antagonist Professor von Post. I am glad that I am able
to say that I today received a very friendly letter from
him expressing congratulations and unanimous grati-
tude. All people here, who know the situation between
“Erdtman” and “von Post”, must say that this means
nothing less than a wonder!
Mitchell (1984, p. 26) also comments upon Wodehouse’s
foreword to Erdtman (1943):
…Erdtman ‘standing on the shoulders of his predeces-
sors, has reached into the realms far beyond’. I am sure
von Post objected to anyone standing on his shoulders,
but he could not abide Erdtman in that position.
One wonders what von Post would have made of the
decision of the Palynological Society of India to create the
Erdtman International Gold Medal in 1968 (Nilsson etal.
1993)—during Erdtman’s lifetime no less?
Conclusions
Palynology has maintained a foothold in the worlds of envi-
ronmental science and cultural history and there is a vigor-
ous engagement with such topics as climate change (Mac-
Donald etal. 2008), biodiversity (Gillson 2015), genetics
(Parducci etal. 2017), archaeology (Edwards etal. 2015),
forensic science (Wiltshire etal. 2015) and health (Burge
2002). At a time when the numbers of palynologists could
be in decline (as suggested by the fewer practitioners [Dem-
chuk and Riding 2008] and the fall in the production of dated
sites from one area at least [cf.; Grant and Waller 2017]),
and given the need to satisfy politically-influenced funders
and paymasters, then we may need to be more mindful of
the potential socio-economic impact agendas of our research
(HEFCE 2017).
This seems a world away from Erdtman’s observation that
‘If you want to be famous, you should not do pollen analysis,
you should do pollen systematics’ (McAndrews 1973, p. 9).
It is also almost three-quarters of a century since von Post
had noted that for many practitioners, routine studies are ‘the
only goal, and this point of view, that pollen analysis can
be an aim in itself, is by no means to be rejected’ (von Post
1946, p. 197). Incremental science, of course, can provide
the data and give rise to ideas for use in hypothesis-testing
and meta-analyses and von Post had also urged the adop-
tion of theory, laws and the scientific method. Anecdotally,
it seems clear that many palynologists are unaware of the
beginnings and later development of their discipline. Such
a knowledge, however, can inform current concerns and pro-
vide the necessary data for use in present-day studies and
modelling activities.
How safe is von Post’s legacy? Well, ignorance of the
origins of the discipline represents a loss of heritage. That
does not mean that the field collapses, although it may mean
that it re-invents things needlessly. Intellectually, it certainly
leaves it impoverished.
Acknowledgements I am grateful to the Royal Swedish Academy of
Sciences (Kungliga Vetenskapsakademien; KVA), Stockholm, for host-
ing the conference at which the themes in this paper were presented.
For archival material, I appreciate access to (and the assistance of):
Gunnar Erdtman papers, Center for History of Science, KVA (Maria
Asp); Thomas Woodhead papers, Kirklees Museums and Galleries
(Tolson Memorial Museum, Huddersfield; Chris Yates); Harold Hyde
papers, Botany Section Correspondence, Amgueddfa Cymru National
Museum Wales (Heather Pardoe); Kathleen Blackburn papers, Natural
History Society of Northumbria Archive, Great North Museum (Han-
cock), Newcastle upon Tyne (Alan Hart); material concerning Florence
Campbell James, Aberystwyth University (Julie Archer). Richard Brad-
shaw, Paul Buckland, Andrew Cameron, Peter Coxon, Egill Erlendsson,
Michael Grant, Alan Hart, Angus Lunn, Limi Mao, Heather Pardoe,
Ed Schofield and Richard West are thanked for advice and assistance.
I appreciate the constructive comments on a draft of this paper by John
Birks. Jenny Johnston assisted with artwork.
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
332 Vegetation History and Archaeobotany (2018) 27:319–335
1 3
Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative
Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecom-
mons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribu-
tion, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate
credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the
Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
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... This paper is the story of China's first palynologist and a contribution to studies which seek to illuminate the history of palynology and its practitioners (cf. Manten 1966Manten , 1967Sarjeant 2002;Demchuk and Riding 2008;Riding and Dettmann 2014;Edwards et al. 2017;Birks and Berglund 2018;De Klerk 2018;Edwards 2018;Troels-Smith et al. 2018). ...
... Scottish pollen research and Chinese possibilities (1934)(1935)(1936)(1937) Within a matter of months of beginning his research in Glasgow, Ting was in communication with Gunnar Erdtman in Sweden. Erdtman ( Figure 3) was a pioneer of pollen analysis within Scotland (Erdtman 1923(Erdtman , 1924(Erdtman , 1928Edwards 2018) and Ting clearly fixed upon such early work, although material from both Scotland and elsewhere in the British Isles had appeared subsequently (e.g. Armstrong et al. 1930;Chesters 1931;Raistrick and Blackburn 1931Godwin and Godwin 1933;Woodhead and Hodgson 1935). ...
... This is hardly surprising given that Ting's primary research concerned the coastal geomorphology of an extensive study areathe palynology must have been a diverting fascination which was clearly becoming his main interest. At this time, papers in British pollen analysis were hardly plentiful (Edwards 1974(Edwards , 2018Birks and Berglund 2018) and it might be expected that Ting would have been familiar with such contemporary productions as indicated above. His willingness to make chronostratigraphic comparisons over large distances (between Sweden and Scotland), might now be seen as ill-advised, but in the context of the timeand in the absence of absolute dating methodsthis was not unusual (cf. ...
Article
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Palynology is a relatively young science in China. It is accepted conventionally that the earliest papers are those by Jen Hsü, regarded as ‘the pioneer of palynology in China’, from 1950 onwards. This is clearly not so – geographer Su Ting (1913–2000) published an earlier paper on Chinese pollen grains in 1949, having included pollen-analytical research in a largely geomorphological doctoral thesis in 1937 – the first PhD by a Chinese citizen at the University of Glasgow. Caught-up in the civil war between Communist and Nationalist forces, Ting had left China for the then British colony of Hong Kong in 1949 and arrived in Los Angeles in 1957 where he termed himself William Su Ting. In Los Angeles he conducted palynological and other research, initially with Daniel Axelrod, eventually retiring as Professor of Geography from California State University in 1979. Ting maintained a long correspondence with Gunnar Erdtman which informs this account along with additional archival and family material. Although Ting was the first Chinese palynologist to work in mainland China, an added element is represented by the Japanese workers Misaburo Shimakura and Genkei Masamune, who performed pollen-analytical investigations in Mainland China and Taiwan respectively in the early 1940s, when this territory was under Japanese control. Ting’s unpublished research on sites in Orkney and the Isle of Bute mark him as one of the UK’s pioneer workers in palynology. His North American publications reflect a willingness to grapple with issues as diverse as Quaternary and pre-Quaternary palaeoecology, pollen morphology, microscopy and statistics.
... A prominent pollen worker recollected, perhaps a bit prematurely, that by the mid-1920s, the technique had become "the dominant method for investigation of late-quaternary vegetational and climatic development" (Wodehouse 1951). By the end of the 1930s, there were about 2500 publications on pollen analysis, a number which grew to 20,300 in the fifty years after von Post's initial presentation (Edwards 2018). ...
... After graduating, Erdtman traveled widely in Europe and North America to undertake pollen analysis. He promoted the method through an extensive correspondence network, descriptions of the technique in major scientific journals (Erdtman 1931), and the circulation of bibliographic lists (Erdtman 1927;Edlund and Winthrop 2014;Edwards 2018). Despite his popularization of the method, Erdtman worried about differential pollen dispersal. ...
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This article examines how geologists, botanists, and ecologists used pollen as a proxy for past climates in the first half of the twentieth century. It focuses on a particular challenge of measuring climate with pollen: pollen’s mobility. As scientists came to learn, pollen from some vegetation is more mobile than others. Pollen’s differential mobility challenged regional climatic conclusions because of the potential mixing of pollen from various locations. To minimize the effects of this problem, pollen analysts sought to decrease the noise produced by highly local or foreign pollen. Yet, many ground-truthing and calibration methods were not available to pollen analysts because of the temporal separation between the observer and the object of interest. Instead, pollen analysts had to make spatial meaning out of fossil pollen using empirical studies of modern pollen, inferences from macrofossils and successional history, and applying statistical theories to fossil pollen data. Many of these corrections factors relied on pollen analysts’ knowledge of place, including elements like the location’s topography, prevailing winds, and plant cover. These elements were a natural part of vegetation-pollen-climate interactions. Scientists needed to account for them to turn pollen into a proxy for climate. Pollen’s movement was equally natural, but scientists decided to eliminate some pollen to augment the regional climate signal. These selective eliminations of place suggest that not all elements of place are equally important. Scientists had to omit some elements of place to make sense of the complexities of the natural world.
... As might be said, the rest is history, and the centenary of von Post's lecture has passed with due celebration (e.g. Birks et al. 2016;De Klerk 2017;Edwards 2017;Edwards et al. 2017;Richards 2017;Birks & Berglund 2017). ...
... Furthermore, he produced a paper for Ymer, the journal of the Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography which would seem to be the first article to refer to palynology in its title, albeit in Swedish -'Palynologisk forskning' ('Palynological research'; Erdtman 1945]). Hyde may have been referring to this when he wrote to Harry Godwin, the 'father' of British pollen analysis (Figure 1; Edwards 1986Edwards , 2017West 2014), on 5 September 1945, ending his letter 'Erdtman has adopted palynology'. Godwin replied on 3 October 1945 with a rather surly observation -'Yes, I see that Erdtman has adopted Palynology it is quite a good word, but I'm not sure of the need for it. ...
Article
From its ‘modern’ pollen-analytical beginnings, the science of what we now term palynology wrestled with terminology and sought an acceptable name for the discipline. Starting in 1943, the mimeographed Pollen Analysis Circular, edited from Ohio by Paul Sears, led to discussion of the content, organisation and naming of a developing discipline. This came to a head in 1944 with Ernst Antev's plea for ‘The Right Word’ and the suggestion of the word ‘palynology’ from the Cardiff duo of Harold Hyde and David Williams. In the search for a suitable term, Hyde consulted Cardiff-based Irish classicist Leopold Richardson who advised against the word palynology and suggested six alternatives. Hyde, however, was wedded to the term palynology and, in the interests of euphony and ‘hankering after my own offspring’, was seemingly able to overcome Richardson's scholarly objections by argument. Hyde and Williams defined palynology as ‘the study of pollen and other spores and their dispersal, and applications thereof’. This was considered an advance because alternative terms such as pollen analysis, pollen statistics and pollen science did not include the application or interpretation of pollen evidence. The term palynology quickly found acceptability within the pages of the Pollen Analysis Circular and subsequently received an airing in Nature. Once palynology was adopted by the influential Swede Gunnar Erdtman, it was rapidly accepted by the palaeoecological community.
... A case in which this process can be seen is palynology. The study of pollen, spores, and microscopic planktonic organisms began as a scientific field in the early 1900s through the work of the Swedish scientist von Post but later expanded to the United States, and in the 1970s became increasingly enmeshed within the emerging ESS field (von Post 1916;Nordlund 2014;Birks and Berglund 2018;Edwards 2018). Despite the differences in their respective objects of study, ice and pollen, ice core drilling and palynology shared early institutional formation, particularly in a Scandinavian context. ...
Article
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The Anthropocene concept frames an emerging new understanding of the human–Earth relationship. It represents a profound temporal integration that brings historical periodization on a par with geological time and creates entanglements between timescales that were previously seen as detached. Because the Anthropocene gets this role of a unifying planetary concept, the ways in which vast geological timescales were incorporated into human history are often taken for granted. By tracing the early history of the processes of synchronizing human and geological timescales, this article aims to historicize the Anthropocene concept. The work of bridging divides between human and geological time was renegotiated and took new directions in physical geography and cognate sciences from the middle decades of the twentieth century. Through researchers such as Ahlmann (Sweden), Seligman (United Kingdom), and Dansgaard (Denmark) in geography and glaciology and Davis (United States) and Iversen (Denmark) in palynology and biogeography, methodologies that became used in synchronizing planetary timescales were discussed and practiced for integrative understanding well before the Anthropocene concept emerged. This article shows through studies of their theoretical assumptions and research practices that the Anthropocene could be conceived as a result of a longer history of production of integrative geo-anthropological time. It also shows the embedding of concepts and methodologies from neighboring fields of significance for geography. By situating and historicizing spaces and actors, texture is added to the Anthropocene, a concept that has hitherto often been detached from the specific contexts and geographies of the scientific work that enabled its emergence.
... It is important to emphasise that other areas have, or continue to be, pursued and that these have produced distinctive blocks of output which are not explored further here, including forensic science (e.g. Wiltshire, 2006Wiltshire, , 2015Wiltshire, , 2016Wiltshire, Hawksworth, & Edwards 2015a, 2015bWiltshire, Hawksworth, Webb, & Edwards, 2014), history of science (Edwards, 2018;Edwards, Fyfe, Hunt, & Schofield, 2015;Edwards, Fyfe, & Jackson, 2017;Edwards & Pardoe, 2018;Gaillard, Berglund, Birks, Edwards, & Bittmann, 2018), and applied palaeoecology (Chambers, Cloutman, Daniell, Mauquoy, & Jones, 2013;Chambers et al., 2017;McMullen, Barber, & Johnson, 2000). ...
Article
Palaeoecological research in the Department of Geography and Environment at the University of Aberdeen can be traced back to pollen-analytical (palynological) and geomorphological collaborations in the early 1970s. The research has generally been nested within Quaternary science and it features strong interdisciplinary links with archaeology, chronostratigraphy, climate change and ecology more generally. The pollen-based emphasis has been augmented by multi-proxy approaches including plant macro- and microfossils, geochemistry and pedology. There has always been techniques- and methodologically-orientated output and the chronological focus has spanned especially the period from the Lateglacial through to the present. With an emphasis upon research since the year 2000, the account is structured around such themes as environmental change in Scotland and the rest of the British Isles, human-environment interactions in the North Atlantic region, Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, atmospheric pollution and metals in prehistory, and carbon sequestration and chronologies. A final section looks briefly and selectively at future research.
... We presented here a comprehensive overview of available data and results within a defined number of topics. Quaternary pollen analysis developed a century ago (Birks & Berglund, 2017;Edwards 2018;Edwards & Pardoe, 2018) and was brought to Colombia in the 1950s by Thomas van der Hammen. Still today, palynology has a central position in palaeoenvironmental research. ...
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We provide an overview of environmental and climatic change in Colombia during the Quaternary, the last ca. 2.58 million years (Ma) before present. This period is characterised by a suite of glacial-interglacial cycles which are remarkably well documented in Colombian sediments. The distribution of Colombia's main ecosystems has changed repeatedly driven by orbital forcing at 21, 41, and 100 ky frequencies which were superimposed by millennial-scale (ca. 2.5 ky) climate oscillations. Fossil pollen records have detected biome dynamics through time but records vary in length: the shortest comes from the Chocó rainforest (extending back to ca. 7 thousand years before present, ka) and dry inter-Andean forest (ca. 12 ka), followed by the savannas of the Llanos Orientales (ca. 20 ka), the Amazonian rainforests (ca. 40 ka), and lower montane forest (ca. 40 ka). The longest records are from the deep sedimentary basins Bogotá (Funza09, last 2.25 Ma) and Fúquene (last 284 ka), alternatingly located in the upper montane forest and páramo during interglacial and glacial conditions, respectively. Climate change caused shifting biome distributions: mainly latitudinally in the lowlands and elevationally in the mountains. Extrinsic drivers (e.g., mean annual precipitation , length of dry season, atmospheric pCO 2 , mean annual temperature, freezing days) of migration and changes in vegetation composition and intrinsic drivers (such as interspecies competition and legacy effects) are still insufficiently understood, and thus hamper meaningful projections of the effect of future environmental change on biomes. Multi-site Pleistocene and Holocene information has been spatially synthe-sised by developing the Latin American Pollen Database. Multi-site information has been analysed by the biomisation method to serve palaeodata-model comparisons and projections about the future of biomes in Colombia. A new method in which pollen based palaeo-reconstructions are spatially analysed with digital elevation models improved our understanding of spatial and elevational shifts of ecotones, for example the upper forest line, in the northern Andes. In the supplementary information we highlight the strengths and weaknesses in current Quaternary palaeoecological research and provide suggestions for future research. Resumen Presentamos una visión general del cambio ambiental y climático en Colom-bia durante el Cuaternario, últimos ca. 2,58 millones de años antes del presente (2,58 Ma). Este período se caracteriza por un conjunto de ciclos glaciales e interglaciales que se encuentran bien registrados en los sedimentos colombianos. La distribución de los Quaternary CHAPTER IN PRESS 2 HOOGHIEMSTRA et al. CHAPTER IN PRESS principales ecosistemas de Colombia ha cambiado repetidamente debido al forzamiento orbital a frecuencias de 21 000, 41 000 y 100 000 años que fueron superpuestas por os-cilaciones climáticas a escala milenaria (ca. 2500 años). Los registros de polen fósil han detectado la dinámica del bioma a través del tiempo; sin embargo, estos registros varían en duración: los registros más cortos provienen de la selva húmeda tropical del Chocó (ex-tendiéndose hasta ca. 7000 años antes del presente, ka) y del bosque seco interandino (ca. 12 ka), seguidos por las sabanas de los Llanos Orientales (ca. 20 ka), las selvas tropicales amazónicas (ca. 40 ka) y los bosques montanos bajos (ca. 40 ka). Los registros más largos corresponden a las cuencas sedimentarias profundas Bogotá (Funza09, últimos 2,25 Ma) y Fúquene (últimos 284 ka), ubicadas alternativamente en el bosque montano superior y el páramo durante las condiciones interglaciares y glaciales, respectivamente. El cambio climático provocó cambios en la distribución de los biomas: sobre todo latitudinalmente en las tierras bajas y altitudinalmente en las montañas. Los factores extrínsecos de la migra-ción (p. ej. la precipitación media anual, la duración de la estación seca, la pCO 2 atmosféri-ca, la temperatura media anual y los días de congelación) y los cambios en la composición de la vegetación y los factores intrínsecos (entre ellos la competencia interespecie y los efectos heredados) no son lo suficientemente comprendidos y, por lo tanto, dificultan las proyecciones del efecto de los cambios ambientales futuros en los biomas. La información pleistocena y holocena de múltiples sitios se ha sintetizado espacialmente mediante el desarrollo de la base de datos palinológicos de América Latina. La información palinológica de múltiples sitios se ha analizado mediante el método de biomización para contribuir a los modelos basados en datos paleontológicos y proyecciones sobre el futuro de los biomas en Colombia. Un nuevo método en el que las paleoreconstrucciones basadas en datos palinológicos se analizan espacialmente con modelos digitales de elevación mejoró nuestro entendimiento sobre los cambios espaciales y altitudinales de los ecotonos, por ejemplo, la línea forestal superior en los Andes del norte. En el material suplementario de este capítulo destacamos las fortalezas y debilidades en la investigación paleoecológica cuaternaria y ofrecemos sugerencias para futuras investigaciones. Palabras clave: cambio climático, Colombia, cambio ambiental, registros palinológicos, análisis cuantitativos, ambientes cuaternarios sin análogo.
Article
The year 2021 marked the bicentenary of the birth of James Croll (1821–1890), the self‐educated son of a crofter‐stonemason, whose life was characterised by a dizzying range of occupations and homes, poor health and financial concerns, and yet he became a pioneer of orbital dynamics and ice age climate change with an impressive record of publication. Drawing upon archival information and recently published observations, this paper explores selected aspects of Croll's biography, his scientific connections and controversies, and that area of his life relevant to Quaternary science. He was a 19th century polymath whose multifaceted contributions have been a catalyst for subsequent systems‐based climate science on the grand scale, including the foundations for the seminal work of Milutin Milankovitch on the rhythms of Quaternary environmental change.
Article
This paper examines the annotations within a copy of the first edition of the ‘bible’ of palynology – Text-book of Modern Pollen Analysis – by the Norwegian botanist Knut Fægri and his co-author, the Danish botanist Johannes Iversen, published in 1950. The marginalia are the work of Swedish geobotanist Gunnar Erdtman, made in his personal library copy of 'Fægri & Iversen'. All three palynologists were amongst the most prominent figures in the history of the field. Erdtman himself had earlier (1943) produced An Introduction to Pollen Analysis and very much saw himself as the master of the discipline. He was probably unaware that his comments would be open to scrutiny and this paper seeks to assess his observations of two would-be usurpers of his palynological crown. Apart from extensive notes, underlinings, drawings, and textual marks, he queried or contradicted factual statements and, pedantically, English usage and reference order. His use of such interaction is to be found elsewhere within his archives, although not to the same extent as seen in Fægri and Iversen’s classic tome. As well as an addition to the critical apparatus available for the appraisal of an academic’s work, the marginalia allow an insight into the thinking of a pioneer scientist, and they reveal a spontaneity and a persona which might otherwise be hidden.
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Here we introduce SP511, Applications of Non-Pollen Palynomorphs: from Palaeoenvironmental Reconstructions to Biostratigraphy. The study of Non-pollen palynomorphs (NPPs) has a long and rich history that is interwoven with that of pollen-based studies. NPPs are among the oldest fossils on record, and are instrumental in determining the origin and evolution of life, as well as studying origination and extinction events prior to the origin of pollen-producing angiosperms. This new volume on NPPs provides an up-to-date and seminal overview of the subject, linking deep-time and Quaternary study of the subject for the first time.
Article
Palaeoecology has been prominent in studies of environmental change during the Holocene epoch in Scotland. These studies have been dominated by palynology (pollen, spore and related bio-and litho-stratigraphic analyses) as a key approach to multi- and inter-disciplinary investigations of topics such as vegetation, climate and landscape change. This paper highlights some key dimensions of the pollen- and vegetation-based archive, with a focus upon woodland dynamics, blanket peat, human impacts, biodiversity and conservation. Following a brief discussion of chronological, climatic, faunal and landscape contexts, the migration, survival and nature of the woodland cover through time is assessed, emphasising its time-transgressiveness and altitudinal variation. While agriculture led to the demise of woodland in lowland areas of the south and east, the spread of blanket peat was especially a phenomenon of the north and west, including the Western and Northern Isles. Almost a quarter of Scotland is covered by blanket peat and the cause(s) of its spread continue(s) to evoke recourse to climatic, topographic, pedogenic, hydrological, biotic or anthropogenic influences, while we remain insufficiently knowledgeable about the timing of the formation processes. Humans have been implicated in vegetational change throughout the Holocene, with prehistoric woodland removal, woodland management, agricultural impacts arising from arable and pastoral activities, potential heathland development and afforestation. The viability of many current vegetation communities remains a concern, in that Scottish data show reductions in plant diversity over the last 400 years, which recent conservation efforts have yet to reverse. Palaeoecological evidence can be used to test whether conservation baselines and restoration targets are appropriate to longer-term ecosystem variability and can help identify when modern conditions have no past analogues.
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Contents I. II. III. IV. V. VI. VII. VIII. IX. X. XI. References SUMMARY: Recent advances in sequencing technologies now permit the analyses of plant DNA from fossil samples (ancient plant DNA, plant aDNA), and thus enable the molecular reconstruction of palaeofloras. Hitherto, ancient frozen soils have proved excellent in preserving DNA molecules, and have thus been the most commonly used source of plant aDNA. However, DNA from soil mainly represents taxa growing a few metres from the sampling point. Lakes have larger catchment areas and recent studies have suggested that plant aDNA from lake sediments is a more powerful tool for palaeofloristic reconstruction. Furthermore, lakes can be found globally in nearly all environments, and are therefore not limited to perennially frozen areas. Here, we review the latest approaches and methods for the study of plant aDNA from lake sediments and discuss the progress made up to the present. We argue that aDNA analyses add new and additional perspectives for the study of ancient plant populations and, in time, will provide higher taxonomic resolution and more precise estimation of abundance. Despite this, key questions and challenges remain for such plant aDNA studies. Finally, we provide guidelines on technical issues, including lake selection, and we suggest directions for future research on plant aDNA studies in lake sediments.
Article
Knud Jessen's name is inherently associated with the history of the flora of northern Europe; for more than a lifetime he has been at the forefront in this field of research. Where he began, in Denmark and in Ireland, others followed, inspired by his achievement, sustained by his vital initiative, and his kind assistance. In his footsteps research flourished, characterized by fruitful allround co-operation. This felicitous esprit de corps can be traced to Knud Jessens charming and downwright personality.Strict objectivity distinguishes Knud Jessen's entire scientific work, yet his daily work of research is borne by a spontaneous and infectious joy. Accordingly, we hope that the specific tribute expressed in this book, written by colleages, pupils, friends, will please him.Knud Jessen's sphere of activity is not limited to Denmark. He has investigated German bogs, worked with English and Norwegian finds, and from his hand derives the fundamental work on the vegetational history of Ireland. It was, therefore, natural to afford some of his friends from the countries mentioned an opportunity to partake in the tribute.The book has been published by the Geological Survey of Denmark as a greeting from his old institute to which he has given many fruitful years of work as the leader of the bog laboratory.
Article
Over the last two decades historical geography in Britain has been one of the most successful branches of the discipline. A passionate debate has been going on for some time now rejecting the so-called sterile historical geography of the logical positivist and propagating a turn to a 'marxist humanism'. A small but articulate group based in Cambridge considers 'that part of the geographer's false consciousness has been his focus upon landscape transformed by man rather than upon man as an agent of landscape change, upon artefacts rather than upon ideas, upon actions rather than attitudes, upon external forms rather than internal processes'. It was the preoccupation with themes concerning the transition from feudalism to capitalism and the problems of the industrial revolution in England which established closer contact with the economic historians which led in turn to the acceptance of a new theoretical framework.-English summary
Article
In 1916, Swedish geologist Ernst Jakob Lennart von Post delivered a provocative lecture in Oslo, Norway, advocating the use of pollen grains in bog sediments as indicators of past vegetation and climate. The lecture spawned many applications and represents a landmark in multidisciplinary science.
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Women have been pioneers in geoscience disciplines such as the structure of the Earth, palaeontology, oil exploration, organic geochemistry and plate tectonics theory. Gaining professional employment and geological credence came slowly, with few women recognized before the late nineteenth century. We highlight their important roles and the obstacles they have overcome to gain degrees and employment, as well as high office. Supplementary material: Supplementary table 1 shows a selection of women geological pioneers who lived, worked and died mainly within the nineteenth century or earlier, and supplementary table 2 gives a selection of geoscience women who lived, worked and died mainly within the twentieth century; they are both available at https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3283388