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Pollen over the past millennium

NSF Award:

The Human Impact Pollen Database: Development of searchable internet image database of pollen taxa  (University of Massachusetts Boston)

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A multidisciplinary team of researchers at the University of Massachusetts Boston has developed the Human Impact Pollen Database, an online image resource of pollen from plants typically associated with human activities. Researchers worldwide can use this tool to study changes in modern as well as historical ecosystems. In addition, the resource includes data for studies of human-plant interactions during the last 1000 years.

The pollen reference images enable scientists to identify unknown plants, reconstruct past environments, assess the movement of plants, and, ultimately, examine human influences on the environment. The database can also assist researchers studying the nature and trajectory of climate change.

Led by Heather Trigg, the team, which included John Steinberg, Robert Stevenson and Robert Morris, collected more than 1200 specimens of plants useful for understanding human interactions with the environment. Specimens include ornamentals, weeds, plants associated with disturbed habitats and arboreal and non-arboreal pollen. The pollen reference collection comes predominantly from plants found today in temperate Northeastern North America, and smaller plant groups from the Southwestern U.S., Iceland and the Caribbean.

Images (1 of )

  • pollen from an ornamental shrub introduced to the u.s. from korea
  • a researcher photographs pollen for the human impacts pollen database
Fiske Center, University of Massachusetts Boston
A researcher photographs pollen for the project.
Fiske Center, University of Massachusetts Boston

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