The Presence of Carya (Hickory) Pollen in St. Catherines Island Sediments (USA), and Its Significance in Paleoenvironmental Reconstructions

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Southeastern Geology


Strata from St. Catherines Island, Georgia, have been investigated for their palynological (pollen and spore) contents for a number of years; the paleoenvironmental interpretations drawn from the studies of fossil palynomorphs constitute a significant aspect of efforts being made to reconstruct ancient depositional environments on the island. The current effort is aimed at the analysis of Carya (hickory/pecan) as it relates to the development of coastal environments during the Last Glacial Maximum, which includes at least the last 23, 000 years of Earth history. Most fossil Carya probably represent one or another species of what is commonly known as hickory, as opposed to pecan. Carya has been an important component of the upland vegetation of St. Catherines Island for thousands of years, and it is clear that it has been present in upland forests of the Lower Coastal Plain for a very long time. Its presence certainly precedes the Last Glacial Maximum, a fact illustrated by fossil Carya pollen recov-ered from bluffs along the Florida bank of the St. Marys River, that date to 25, 000 to - 37, 395 years before present. Additionally, Carya has been shown to be an important component of Native American diets on the island, so its presence has affected many different aspects of island ecology.