a1 Earth Sciences, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK firstname.lastname@example.org
Phytoliths in the modern vegetation of sub-Antarctic Campbell Island are compared with those in the soil beneath to assess the accuracy of vegetation reconstructions made from dispersed phytolith assemblages. The soil phytoliths alone suggest the source vegetation is a grassland association for all study sites, which reflects none of the herb, fern or shrub component of the overlying vegetation. It is concluded that at this locality dispersed phytoliths on their own are not reliable indicators of source vegetation and should be used with caution in this context for palaeoecological studies. However, they can provide useful botanical information where all other organic material is absent. With further research, based on the abundance and diversity of Poaceae phytoliths observed in this and other studies, dispersed phytoliths from the fossil record have the potential to contribute significantly to the understanding of grassland ecosystem development in the geological past.
(Received December 04 2006)
(Accepted March 26 2007)