The influence of vegetation composition on peat humification: implications for palaeoclimatic studies

D. Yeloff, Dmitri Mauquoy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)


Peat humification analysis is a widely used palaeoclimate proxy. However, recent studies combining humification with other proxies of mire surface wetness have identified inconsistencies between the records. We illustrate this inconsistency by comparing humification records with plant macrofossil profiles in three ombrotrophic bogs. Peat humification is a measure for organic decay and reflects changing palaeohydrological conditions and former vegetation composition. The resulting signal is considered to be a derived response to climate. However, even minor changes in the botanical composition of the peat may have a significant influence on humification measurements. The implications of this for palaeoclimate studies are discussed. The assumption that climate has been the major influence on variations in humification rests on the botanical composition being relatively homogeneous throughout the peat profile, and is therefore questionable. Consideration should be given to developing species-specific measures of humification and to testing the assumption that the major influence on peat humification is the surface wetness of the bog (and therefore climate).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)662-673
Number of pages11
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2006


  • holocene climatic changes
  • North-West Scotland
  • proxy-climate
  • blanket mire
  • Scottish Borders
  • surface wetness
  • raised bogs
  • hill moss
  • record
  • England


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