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Interglacial Pollen Spectra from Sel Ayre, Shetland

H. J. B. Birks and Sylvia M. Peglar
The New Phytologist
Vol. 83, No. 2 (Sep., 1979), pp. 559-575
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the New Phytologist Trust
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2434154
Page Count: 20
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Interglacial Pollen Spectra from Sel Ayre, Shetland
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Abstract

The lithostratigraphy of a section exposed at Sel Ayre on the Walls Peninsula, Shetland Mainland is described. A peat bed 50 cm thick is overlain by 7.3 m of sands, gravels, and boulder clay. Pollen analyses of this peat bed and of peat laminae in the sands reveal three distinctive pollen assemblages. These assemblages are interpreted as reflecting a vegetational development from grass- and fern-dominated communities on fertile brown-earths to dwarf-shrub heaths dominated by ericaceous shrubs including Bruckenthalia spiculifolia. These heaths grew on acid humus-rich podsols and were replaced by open, grass-dominated communities. Numerical comparisons of the Sel Ayre pollen spectra with pollen data from other sites on Shetland using principal components analysis suggest that three interglacial stages are represented on Shetland Mainland - Flandrian, Ipswichian and Hoxnian. On the basis of the composition of the presumed long-distance tree-pollen rain, the Sel Ayre sequence is correlated with the Ipswichian stage. A basic interglacial cycle is proposed for the Shetlands.

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