The present is the key to the past – non-pollen palynomorphs (NPPs) as a proxy for herbivore impact on vegetation in the Białowieża Forest.

Project duration:
01.03.2021-28.02.2025 (48 months)
Financing institutions:
National Science Centre
Project coordinator:
prof. dr hab. Bogdan Jaroszewicz
Project description

Non-pollen palynomorphs (NPPs) are present in pollen samples along with pollen and spores. They are the remains of various organisms, including many groups of fungi from different habitats. The aim of the project is to determine their composition in modern pollen samples from the Białowieża Forest to help to reconstruct the historical developments of this area. We will use moss samples, which are natural pollen traps, and Tauber-type traps – devices collecting falling pollen annually. We will analyze which environmental factors influence the abundance of this type of remains in modern pollen samples. The indicative value of many NPPs is not known yet and we will provide new information in this ground. The Białowieża Forest creates excellent conditions to collect both the data on the pollen/vegetation relationships and data on non-pollen palynomorphs (NPPs) and their environmental indicative value.

A very informative part of NPPs are the spores of coprophilous fungi, associated with dung of herbivores. We will determine their usefulness as the local indicators of the herbivore’s presence in the surroundings of the site. We will investigate the composition of ca. 100 moss samples, 20 Tauber-type traps and dung of five native ungulate species in the Białowieża Forest (red deer, roe deer, bison, moose and wild boar) for the presence of this group of spores. These relationships then will constitute the baseline for the use of coprophilous fungi spores as a proxy for quantifying population density of ungulate herbivores in the past.

The project will be based on pollen analysis including NPPs and the obtained results will form the basis for enriching knowledge about the methodological aspects of research on modern pollen rain and non-pollen palynomorphs.