Using Plant Macrofossils and Other Paleoenvironmental Indicators to Determine Paleoenvironmental Conditions in an Allegan County, Michigan Bog

Faculty Mentor(s)

Professor Suzanne DeVries-Zimmerman, Hope College
Dr. Edward Hansen, Hope College

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Detailed plant macrofossil analyses were performed on peat cores from an Allegan County, Michigan bog and used with the paleoenvironmental proxies organic bulk density (OBD) and siliceous microfossil abundances to determine the paleoenvironmental conditions of this bog. The plant macrofossils were divided into four different ecological communities. Community #1, the lowermost assemblage, has sedge species, low OBD values, and abundant sponge spicules and marks the beginning of the accumulation of large amounts of fibrous plant material into a shallow open lake wetland ~8000 cal YBP. Community #2 has deeper water sedge and Nymphaeaceae species, low OBD values, and abundant sponge spicules, suggesting an increase in water depth. Community #3 marks the appearance of ericaceous and Sphagnum species, the disappearance of sponge spicules, and a steady increase in OBD, suggesting the beginning of a near emergent bog surface ~3000 cal YBP. Community #4 begins with charcoal, fine ash and no recognizable vegetative matter, suggesting a fire. The vegetation transitions from ferns and sedges after the fire to ericaceous species and Sphagnum. Sponge spicules are absent and OBD values are high suggesting that the bog surface has become emergent. Over time, the bog has undergone hydroseral succession in conjunction with changes occurring in response to climatic changes.


This research was supported by the Michigan Space Grant Consortium, the Fulbright Commission, and Hope College.

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