Pollen preserved in a peat deposit from a large swamp, the Old Field in the Mississippi River Valley near Advance, Missouri, records radiocarbon-dated vegetation changes between 9000 and about 3000 years ago. The principal feature of both the percentage and influx pollen diagrams is the replacement of arboreal pollen, primarily Quercus, Fraxinus, and Cephalanthus, with Gramineae and NAP between 8700 and 5000 years BP. This vegetation shift is interpreted as reflecting a decrease in the extent of the Old Field swamp and its associated bottomland forest species along with the expansion of a grass-dominated herb community, as a result of a reduction in available ground water. The desiccation of the swamp during this period indicates a reduction in precipitation within the ground-water source area and a shift to a drier climate in the southern Midwest. The pollen suggests that the lowest water levels and driest climate in southeastern Missouri lasted from 8700 to 6500 years BP, at which time there is a partial reappearance of swamp species. Relatively dry conditions, however, continued until at least 5000 years BP. Although pollen influx data are lacking from the upper part of the profile, the relative pollen frequencies suggest an increase in trees after 5000 BP. The replacement of the arboreal vegetation by grasses and herbs between 8700 and 5000 years BP reflects the period of maximum expansion of the Prairie Peninsula in southeastern Missouri. The Old Field swamp provides the first pollen evidence that the vegetational changes along the southern border of the Prairie Peninsula were chronologically similar to those on the northern and northeastern margins. ?? 1977.
Additional publication details
A Holocene vegetation record from the Mississippi River Valley, southeastern Missouri