Rull, V., M. C. Trapote, E. Safont, N. Cañellas-Boltà, N. Pérez-Zanón, J. Sigró, T. Buchaca, and T. Vegas-Vilarrúbia (2016), Seasonal patterns of pollen sedimentation in Lake Montcortès (Central Pyrenees) and potential applications to high-resolution paleoecology: a 2-year pilot study, Journal of Paleolimnology, 1-14, doi: 10.1007/s10933-016-9933-z.
Lakes with varved sediments are especially well suited for paleoecological study, from annual to even seasonal resolution. The interpretative power of such high-resolution paleoenvironmental reconstructions relies on the availability of modern analogs with the same temporal resolution. We studied seasonal pollen sedimentation in varved Lake Montcortès, Central Pyrenees (Spain), as a modern analog for high-resolution reconstruction of Late Holocene vegetation and landscape dynamics. Seasonal samples were obtained from sediment traps that were submerged near the maximum water depth for a 2-year period (fall 2013 to fall 2015). Seasonal pollen sedimentation was compared with meteorological variables from a nearby weather station. Bulk pollen sedimentation, dominated by Pinus (pine) and Quercus (oak), followed a clear seasonal pattern that peaked during the spring/summer, coinciding with maximum temperature and precipitation, minimum relative humidity and moderate winds from the SSE. Pollen sedimentation lags (PSL) were observed for most pollen types, as substantial amounts of pollen were found in the traps outside of their respective flowering seasons. Two pollen assemblages were clearly differentiated by their taxonomic composition, corresponding to spring/summer and fall/winter. This pattern is consistent with existing interpretation of the sediment varves, specifically, that varves are formed by two-layer couplets that represent the same seasonality as pollen. We concluded that pollen sedimentation in Lake Montcortès exhibits a strong seasonal signal in the quantity of pollen, the taxonomic composition of the pollen assembalges, and relationships between the pollen and meteorological variables. Thus, varved sediments provide a potentially powerful tool for paleoecological reconstruction at seasonal resolution. This method could be used not only to identify paleoenvironmental trends, but also to identify annual layers and therefore date sediments, even in the absence of evident sediment laminations. A satisfactory explanation of PSL will require further studies that examine internal lake dynamics and pollen production/dispersal patterns.