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Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Program

Biology

Date of Award

8-2011

Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Christopher Liu

Committee Members

Michael S. Zavada, Michael J. Whitelaw, Carlos A. Jaramillo

Abstract

In order to understand Mio-Pliocene floristic characteristics of the southern Appalachian Mountains, 47 palynological samples from six different testing-pits across the Gray Fossil Site (GFS) were analyzed. The site exhibits a low pollen yield resulting from basic pH levels, drought, and fire events occurring during deposition. The palynofloral assemblage has a low to moderate diversity, and it is largely dominated by Quercus-Carya-Pinus (~90% of the palynoflora). The reported presence of Pterocarya grains supports a Late Neogene age for the lacustrine sediments. Comparison with modern pollen-based floras suggests that: (1) the Mio-Pliocene Oak-Hickory-Pine association varied in structure between a woodland to woodland/savanna, depending on the intensity and frequency of drought, fire events and herbivory, (2) pits show different structure of the co-dominant genera, which indicate alternating composition of the vegetation, and (3) in term of modern vegetation, the GFS flora corresponds well with the Mesophytic Forest region.

Document Type

Thesis - Campus Only

Copyright

Copyright by the authors.

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