The Open Ecology Journal

ISSN: 1874-2130 ― Volume 9, 2016

Strengths and Weaknesses of Quantitative Climate Reconstructions Based on Late-Quaternary

The Open Ecology Journal, 2010, 3: 68-110

H. John B. Birks, Oliver Heiri, Heikki Seppä, Anne E. Bjune

Department of Biology, University of Bergen, Thormøhlensgate 53A, NO-5006 Bergen, Norway; Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Allégaten 55, NO-5007 Bergen, Norway; Environmental Change Research Centre, University College London, London, WC1E 6BT, UK; and School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3QY, UK.

Electronic publication date 22/6/2010
[DOI: 10.2174/1874213001003020068]


The importance of reconstructing past environments quantitatively in palaeoecology is reviewed by showing that many ecological questions asked of palaeoecological data commonly involve the reconstructions of past environment. Three basic approaches to reconstructing past climate from palaeoecological data are outlined and discussed in terms of their assumptions, strengths, and weaknesses. These approaches are the indicator-species approach involving bioclimateenvelope modelling; the assemblage approach involving modern analogue techniques and response surfaces; and the multivariate calibration-function approach. Topics common to all approaches are reviewed – presentation and interpretation, evaluation and validation, comparison, and general limitations of climate reconstructions. Challenges and possible future developments are presented and the potential future role of quantitative climate reconstructions in palaeoecology is summarised.

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