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Quantification of UV-B flux through time using UV-B-absorbing compounds contained in fossil Pinus sporopollenin

Authors

  • K. J. Willis,

    1. Long-term Ecology Laboratory, Biodiversity Institute, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK
    2. Department of Biology, University of Bergen, PO Box 7803, N-5020 Bergen, Norway
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  • A. Feurdean,

    1. Long-term Ecology Laboratory, Biodiversity Institute, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK
    2. Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum & Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, Senckenberganlage 25, 60325, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
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  • H. J. B. Birks,

    1. Department of Biology, University of Bergen, PO Box 7803, N-5020 Bergen, Norway
    2. Environmental Change Research Centre, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK
    3. School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3QY, UK
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  • A. E. Bjune,

    1. Uni Bjerknes Centre and Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Allégaten 55, N-5007 Bergen, Norway
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  • E. Breman,

    1. Long-term Ecology Laboratory, Biodiversity Institute, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK
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  • R. Broekman,

    1. Department of Systems Ecology, Institute of Ecological Science, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, Vrije Universiteit De Boelelaan 1087, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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  • J-A. Grytnes,

    1. Department of Biology, University of Bergen, PO Box 7803, N-5020 Bergen, Norway
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  • M. New,

    1. School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3QY, UK
    2. African Climate and Development Initiative, c/o Department of Geological Sciences, University of Cape TownPrivate Bag X3, Rondebosch 7701 South Africa
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  • J. S. Singarayer,

    1. Bristol Research Initiative for the Dynamic Global Environment, School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, University Road, Bristol BS8 1SS, UK
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  • J. Rozema

    1. Department of Systems Ecology, Institute of Ecological Science, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, Vrije Universiteit De Boelelaan 1087, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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Author for correspondence:
K. J. Willis
Tel: +44 (0)1865 281321
Email: kathy.willis@zoo.ox.ac.uk

Summary

  • UV-B radiation currently represents c. 1.5% of incoming solar radiation. However, significant changes are known to have occurred in the amount of incoming radiation both on recent and on geological timescales. Until now it has not been possible to reconstruct a detailed measure of UV-B radiation beyond c. 150 yr ago.
  • Here, we studied the suitability of fossil Pinus spp. pollen to record variations in UV-B flux through time. In view of the large size of the grain and its long fossil history, we hypothesized that this grain could provide a good proxy for recording past variations in UV-B flux.
  • Two key objectives were addressed: to determine whether there was, similar to other studied species, a clear relationship between UV-B-absorbing compounds in the sporopollenin of extant pollen and the magnitude of UV-B radiation to which it had been exposed; and to determine whether these compounds could be extracted from a small enough sample size of fossil pollen to make reconstruction of a continuous record through time a realistic prospect.
  • Preliminary results indicate the excellent potential of this species for providing a quantitative record of UV-B through time. Using this technique, we present the first record of UV-B flux during the last 9500 yr from a site near Bergen, Norway.

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