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Keywords:

  • palaeoecology;
  • palynology;
  • caves;
  • taphonomy;
  • Spain

Abstract

Surface sediment, speleothems, and bat guano from two adjacent, topographically different cave sites in eastern Spain have been studied palynologically to elucidate the potential of cave sediments for palaeoenvironmental reconstruction. A cave opening with a large entrance and constant width presented far fewer problems of alteration in the pollen assemblages than a sac-like cave opening with a constricted entrance. Pollen concentration is linked primarily to the amount of pollen input rather than to the result of post-depositional alteration. Sampling should be undertaken away from parietal and rear areas and avoiding moisture zones. Lateral differences in the pollen spectra indicate that sampling should be on the basis of a multiple-profile approach and selection of dry rather than wet sediments. If these procedures are followed, within-cave sediments can realistically reflect not only local but also regional vegetation of the site. Copyright © 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.