A Holocene pollen record recovered from a guano deposit: Round Spring Cavern, Missouri, USA


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Bat guano deposits have been the subject of relatively few palynological studies. The studies to date have focused on the most modern samples only, and therefore the full potential of bat guano as an archive for fossil pollen analysis remains unknown. In this paper we report the results of pollen analysis on an 88-cm vertical profile of fossil bat guano from Round Spring Cavern, Missouri. Four AMS radiocarbon dates were in sequence and showed that the guano pile was active between 8155 and approximately 550 cal. yr BP. Pollen is well preserved throughout the profile, with most samples containing less than 10% indeterminable pollen. Wind-pollinated taxa are better represented than insect-pollinated taxa, and pollen concentrations range from 842 to 371 660 grains cm−3. As expected, the dominant vegetation types represented by the pollen assemblage are oak and pine, in accordance with the region's oak–hickory–pine forest. However, there are discrepancies between the guano pollen record and the results of a lake pollen study conducted in southern Missouri. We propose several possible factors that may be influencing the guano pollen record and provide direction for further investigation into the palaeoecological potential of bat guano.

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