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This comprises the introductory or methodological section of the text. I suspect, however that this may be more difficult and expensive from a production viewpoint.


This book is ambitious in its scope and covers a large amount of material, and thus treatment given to any one topic is necessarily limited. In this and subsequent sections, I particularly like the historical perspective on the development of the discipline, complete with photographs and some biographical paleopalnology on some prominent practitioners.

Because palynology is such a visual discipline, and pattern recognition plays such a large role, the opportunity to compare illustrations of major types is valuable. This necessitates much page turning and makes it difficult to study and compare the images. I suspect that specialists in the other time intervals and topics covered in this text might have similar observations.

What does paleopalynology mean?

Our discipline is not alone in this; the divisions between physical and human geography or in geology between Quaternary and hard rock specialists spring readily to mind. Throughout the book, the writing style is discursive and chatty.

Owing to the attempt to illustrate as wide a range of types as possible, many pages contain two dozen or more small photographic images.


In addition some images are rather blurred. These illustrations are predominantly photomicrographs and SEM images. I suspect that it is destined to become a standard on palynologists’ bookshelves.

Paleopalynology Traverse, Alfred, pp.

Some major topics discussed include definitions, a short history of the discipline, a discussion of the different types of palynomorphs, a survey of plant life-cycles emphasising the role played by pollen and spores, and an exposition of pollen and spore morphology. The applications and implications of these data to the study of lithified sediments are then highlighted. The next eleven chapters consist of a survey of the field of paleopalynology in geochronologic order, beginning with acritarchs in the Precambrian in Chapter 6 and concluding with “Holocene interglacial palynology” in Chapter For example, the chapter on Holocene palynology, although touching on some major points, does seem cursory and rather fragmentary.

I consider that this term is so well entrenched in the literature that he is on a losing wicket and may be inviting confusion here.

CAP Book Review: Paleopalynology

Occasionally, passages read as through they have been transcribed directly from lecture notes, for example, “I would now like to summarize the salient features” p. However, the aim paleopalynoloy the text is to give a general survey of the field and in this it appears to succeed well. The initial discussion concentrates on pollen production, dispersal, and sedimentation, based on studies of the modern flora and pollen rain.

Reviewed by Alwynne B.

The chapters also paleopalynoloyg illustrations, drawings, and photographs of major and representative taxa discussed. Unfortunately, I found some of the drawings rather indistinct, although paleppalynology may be simply a fault in the reproduction. Finally, references are compiled for the entire book, rather than for individual chapters. Each chapter consists of a survey of the main palynomorphs of that time period together with a consideration of major research themes, supported by extensive references to the literature.



There is a major division in the discipline between Quaternary pollen analysts and stratigraphic or paleopalynologists who tend to concentrate on pre-Pleistocene materials. My personal preference here for palynomorph illustrations is for few images, say only six or eight, on a pages, with some indication of scale and the captions directly beneath their images.

This is a value-laden description optimum for whom?

The main text is followed by a lengthy palelpalynology dealing with processing methods. Although my area of interest is primarily the Late Quaternary, I found this text with its clear expositions, lucid writing style, and abundant illustrations, informative and valuable.

As an aside, Traverse has some terminological quibbles with the name “Holocene”, and would prefer that this interval was subsumed under the Pleistocene. I also feel that many of the figure captions are too long and contain discussion material that would be better included in the main text e. In this regard, I was amused to note that Traverse uses the term “climatic optimum”.