The role of landscape structure in determining palynological and floristic richness

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The associations between floristic and palynological richness and landscape structure were studied based on modern pollen-vegetation data from a patchy cultural landscape in southern Estonia (northern temperate vegetation zone). Nine study sites (small lakes and their surrounding vegetation) represent land cover gradient from closed forest to semi-open vegetation. Floristic richness (number of species) and floristic richness of pollen types (number of pollen-equivalent taxa) were used to describe the vegetation within the radius of 250 m from the pollen sampling sites. Palynological richness was calculated to describe the modern pollen samples diversity. Landscape structure was estimated on the basis of landscape openness and three landscape diversity measures: richness of community patches, Simpson evenness of community patches and Simpson diversity of community patches. To study the effect of the spatial scale of landscapes on the vegetation-landscape and pollen-landscape associations, landscape structure was estimated within eight radii (250-2,000 m) around each lake. The results showed that landscape openness was the most important determinant of both floristic richness and palynological richness in southern Estonia and that landscape diversity estimated by Simpson diversity index was also significantly associated with the richness estimates. Floristic and palynological richness were significantly positively correlated with landscape structure within the radii greater than 1,000 m from the pollen sampling sites, which is similar to the estimated Relevant Source Area of Pollen in southern Estonia. We conclude that within one floristic or climatic region, palynological richness gives reliable estimates about the variation in floristic richness and landscape structure; however, caution must be taken when comparing pollen-inferred vegetation diversities from different regions or when interpreting fossil pollen records from times with highly different vegetation associations.


  • Vivika Meltsov
  • Anneli Poska
  • Triin Reitalu
  • Marek Sammul
  • Tiiu Kull
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Physical Geography


  • Palynological richness, Floristic richness, Landscape diversity, Landscape openness, Landscape patchiness, Estonia
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-49
JournalVegetation History and Archaeobotany
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Publication categoryResearch