The analysis of fossil stomata is a valuable methodological tool


Conifer stomata analysis in paleoecological studies on the Loess Plateau: An example from Tianchi Lake, Liupan Mountains

by Zhang K., Zhao Y., Guo X. L. (2011)

MOE Key Laboratory of Western China’s Environmental System, Research School of Arid Environment and Climate Change, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China

in Journal of Arid Environments Volume 75, Issue 11, November 2011, Pages 1209–1213 –


The identification of fossil conifer stomata was conducted from a lake sedimentary sequence on the Liupan Mountains, southwestern Loess Plateau, in order to reconstruct detailed forest history and assess the potential of using stomata as a supplement to pollen analysis to determine the local presence of conifers over the last 3200 years.

The pollen has already been analyzed in our previous study.

Reference conifer stomata were prepared for the fossil stomata identification and demonstrate that the conifer stomata could be identified to at least genus level.

Our stomata and pollen results reveal three clear stages of the forest recession during the late Holocene: mixed conifer-deciduous forest, steppe-forest and steppe.

Combined stomata and pollen results confirm the local presence of conifer trees (Abies and Pinus) in the vicinity of the Tianchi Lake. Abundant Abies trees existed during 3200–2200 cal yr BP. Then it decreased and finally demised at ca.210 cal yr BP. Pinus trees have been continuously present with very low abundance throughout the late Holocene.

Application of comprehensive studies comprising both stomata and pollen analyses allowed a detailed determination of the stages of conifer trees presence in the vicinity of the Tianchi Lake.

Our study suggests that the analysis of fossil stomata is a valuable methodological tool for the provision of unambiguous evidence of the past local presence of the coniferous taxa in this region.

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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