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BACHELORS/​LICENSE

MAJOR​/SPÉCIALITÉ
ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES/​LES ÉTUDES D'ENVIRONNEMENT
FRENCH/​FRANÇAIS
INTERDISCIPLINARY GLOBAL PROGRAMS

TAMIKA WRIGHT
Pollen Representation Of The Main Vegetation Communities In
South Korea Based On Different Modern Surface Samples

Undergraduate Senior Internship Report / ​Memoire de Stage de License 3


School Year / ​Année universitaire​ : ​2018
Office / ​Structure d’accueil​ : ​Laboratoire EPOC, Université de Bordeaux
Internship Supervisor / ​Maître de Stage​ : ​Maria Fernanda Sanchez-Goñi
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Thank you to Maria Fernanda Sanchez-Goni, for her valuable assistance in both
monitoring my research and correcting this report. Thank you to ​Sangheon Yi​, for
assisting me in pollen identification. Thank you to the palynology team at EPHE for
mounting pollen samples and providing information on said samples.
This research was funded by Hanyang University (South Korea).

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INDEX OF FIGURES
Figure 1: Seasonal wind direction
trends……………..……………..……………..……………..……………………...9
Figure 2: Main plant formations of the Korean Peninsula (Yi,
2011)……………..……………..…………..11
Figure 3: Schematic maps of the path of the Tsushima Current in the Japan Sea, proposed by
the views of triple branch and
single-meander-path……………..……………..……………..…..………….………..12
Table 1: Pollen surface samples and
locations……………..……………..……………..……………...…………….13
Figure 4: ​Abies,​ Exotic added (​Lycopodium​), ​Sellaginella​, ​Quercus ​type​ lepidobalanus​, ​Alnus​.
Pollen samples were preserved in the Eastern Sea Core
sequence……………..……………..………..…..16
Figure 5: Map of South Korea with surface samples and vegetation
distribution……...……..………19
Figure 6: Taxa histograms and ecological group pie charts of HYG 00283 and HYG
00284…………20
Figure 7: Taxa histogram and ecological group pie chart of HYG
00396……………….…………..……….21
Figure 8:Taxa histograms and ecological group pie charts of HYG 0297 and HYG
00299………...…22
Figure 9: Collection area and histograms of samples HYG 02186, HYG 02183 and HYG
02185….26
Figure 10: Collection area and histogram of sample HYG
02239……………..……………….…………...…30
Figure 11: Collection area and histograms of samples HYG 02238 and SJ2
1608……………..……….34
Figure 12: Collection area and histograms of samples HYG
02189……………..……………..……………..36
Figure 13: Collection area and histograms of samples GR4 1608 and HYG
02237……………..………38
Figure 14: Collection area and histograms of samples HYG 02235 and HYG
02234…..…….…..……40

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TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS……………..……………..……………..……………..……………..……………..
……………..……..2
RESUME……………..……………..……………..……………..……………..……………..……………..……
………..……………..5
ABSTRACT……………..……………..……………..……………..……………..……………..……………..…
…………..…………..6
I. INTRODUCTION……………..……………..……………..……………..……………..………….…..
……………..……..7
II. ENVIRONMENTAL
CONTEXT……………..……………..……………..……………..……………..………...……….8
2.1 Climate in the Korean peninsula
2.2 Vegetation Distribution in the Korean peninsula
2.3 The Eastern Sea
III. MATERIALS AND
METHODS……………..……………..……………..……………..……………..……………….……12
3.1 Material: Modern pollen samples and core ES14-GC1
3.1.1 Modern pollen samples
3.1.2 Core ES14-GC1
3.2 Pollen Methodology
3.2.1 Pollen Generalization
3.2.2 Pollen sample preparation

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3.2.3 Identification and quantification of pollen grains
3.2.4 Representing the results
IV. RESULTS AND
INTERPRETATION……………..……………..……………..……………..……………..…..………..…20
4.1 Pollen Assemblages Over Different Seasons
4.1.2 Modern Pollen Assemblages At Different Locations
V.
DISCUSSION……………..……………..……………..……………..……………..……………..……………..
……………….40
VI.
CONCLUSION……………..……………..……………..……………..……………..……………..…………….
.…………….41
VII.
BIBLIOGRAPHY……………..……………..……………..……………..……………..……………..…………
…..…………42

RÉSUMÉ (FRANÇAIS)
Le but ultime du projet de recherche pour lequel j’ai travaillé lors de mon stage de Licence
3 est d'examiner l'impact des changements climatiques abrupts passés sur la végétation de l’est
de la Corée du Sud en étudiant les grains de pollen préservés dans une séquence sédimentaire
marine prélevée dans la mer de l'Est. Cette séquence est localisée à 37,26°N 130,450 °E et
couvre une bonne partie de la dernière période glaciaire (~50 000-15 000 ans avant le présent),
période qui est caractérisée dans l’Atlantique Nord par une variabilité climatique rapide, en
moyenne un changement tous les 1 000 ans. Pour mieux interpréter les assemblages polliniques
retrouvés dans cette séquence, notre stage s’est intéressé plus particulièrement à étudier la
représentation pollinique actuelle des différentes communautés végétales autour de la mer de
l’Est. Plusieurs échantillons actuels provenant des sédiments de surface correspondant à la pluie
pollinique d’une dizaine d’années et des pièges (filtres) atmosphériques correspondant à
différentes saisons ont été récupérés autour de la mer de l'Est et analysés. Ce stage s'inscrit dans
la continuité d'un projet bilatéral France-Corée PHC Star MEDKO financé par Campus France et

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réalisé en étroite collaboration entre les équipes PALÉOCLIMATS d’EPOC (EPHE, PSL University,
CNRS, Université de Bordeaux, France) et l'Université d’Hanyang (Corée du Sud).

ABSTRACT (ENGLISH)
The purpose of the research project I worked on during my undergraduate senior year is
to examine the impact climate change has on the vegetation of South Korea through studying
pollen grains that were preserved in sedimentary sequences from the Eastern Sea. This sequence
is located approximately 37,26°N 130,450 °E and covers a good part of the last glacial period
(~50,000 – 15,000 years before present day)m a period that is characterized in the North Atlantic
by rapid climatic variability, on average one change every 1,000 years. To better interpret the
pollen assemblages found in this sequence, our internship was particularly interested in studying
the current pollen representation of the different plant communities around the Eastern Sea
Several current samples from surface sediments corresponding to pollen rain of about ten years
and atmospheric traps (filters) corresponding to different seasons were collected around the
Eastern Sea and analyzed. This internship is a continuation of a bilateral project France-Korea PHC
Star MEDKO funded by Campus France and carried out in close collaboration between the teams

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PALEOCLIMATS EPOC (EPHE, PSL University, CNRS, University of Bordeaux, France) and the
University of Hanyang (South Korea).

I. INTRODUCTION
Throughout the years, vegetation on South Korea has changed drastically due to climate
change, monsoon seasons or anthropogenic activity (such as deforestation, reforestation,
pollution and construction). South Korea has been characterized by having diverse landscapes
varying in latitude, temperature and rainfall. In the summer, South Korea has the most rains,
increasing in severity from South to North while the winter has little to no rains. Due to the
location of this rainfall, the northern part of South Korea is dominated by Temperate Broadleaf
Deciduous Forest. However, it has been recently discovered that the severity of rainfall and lack
of has been steadily increasing over the years. It was previously assumed that ecological biomes
in South Korea were distinctly separated, with grassland only occupying a certain section,
however, current data proves this to be false, with grassland occupying nearly all coastal areas in
South Korea.

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The Eastern Sea, surrounding South Korea, is a big factor in influencing vegetation
distribution. The Tsushima current is a major driving force for the Eastern Sea, bringing water to
and from the Pacific Ocean in such a way that three distinct paths (or branches) are formed, one
flowing directly into South Korea.
To date, the potential impact of the Late Glacial rapid climatic variability, ~73,000-15,000
years before present (7”-15 ka), on vegetation on the Korean Peninsula has not been studied and
changes in the East Asian monsoon, which controls vegetation changes, have been mainly
documented through the analysis of speleothems. Nevertheless, the understanding of the East
Asian monsoon, intensity, frequency and duration, is essential because of it depends the
economy of a great part of the Asian populations. Nearly two-thirds of humanity live in regions
influenced by the monsoon, making it a popular study subject, due to the large amount of people
who live there.
The purpose of this study is to provide accurate vegetation readings via pollen analysis
provided with samples taken from surface sediment, air traps, etc. In this way present pollen data
can be compared to past data in order to accurately interpret fossil pollen data in terms of
vegetation and monsoon changes. In this study, we aimed to evaluate the pollen representation
of the vegetation colonizing South Korea and the surroundings by analyzing samples from
different seasons and locations and compare them to current vegetation spatial mapping.

II. ENVIRONMENTAL CONTEXT


2.1 Climate in the Korean peninsula
The Korean peninsula is characterized by having many diverse landscapes, from
mountainous to desertified, with over 3500 plant species. In the winter, the area is dry and cold
while in the summer it is hot and humid, with most rainfalls occurring during the summer (Koo et
al 2017). The climate is largely dominated by summer and winter monsoons as a result of the
temperature difference between Asia and the Pacific Ocean, with Asia being warmed by the sun
and thus creating coastal lows while the Southeast Asian Monsoon blows warm winds towards
the continent in the summer, strong precipitation, and the opposite occurring during the winter
(coastal highs and cold winds) (Yi 2011; Xiao et al., 1999). Generally, summer monsoons are

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stronger than winter monsoons; however the strength of both monsoon types depends on a
variety of factors such as El Nino Southern Oscillation, rainfall and orbital cycles. A study in 2010
showed an overall decreasing trend in precipitation in the winter time and an increasing trend in
precipitation in the summer season, indicating heavier flooding and stronger droughts ​ ​(Yi, 2011).
In late winter the wind flows come from the north/northwest; while in the fall, flows are
occasionally from the east/northeast with traces of pollution emissions from Japan and Korea.
Like the winter, spring flows are from the northwest however these flows are influenced by
anthropogenic activities and reoccurring dust storms. Wind flows in summer are from the
southwest/south/southeast (Chen et al 1997).

Figure 1: seasonal wind direction trends (Chen et al 1997)


2.2 Vegetation Distribution in the Korean peninsula

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A large portion of the forest in the Korean peninsula was reduced during the Japanese
occupation and the Korean war, diminishing the forest in South Korea to less than half of its
original area. “Young forest” or forest that was planted within the past 50 years, currently
comprises 72% of the total forest mass in South Korea (Jeong et. al. 2013). Current vegetation
distribution in the Korean peninsula is closely linked to temperature and latitude, as plants that
thrive in hot and desertified areas are located in areas with lower latitude and a higher
temperature. Rainfall in South Korea tends to increase as you travel more south (Yi, 2011)​.
According to a current vegetation map, majority of the coastal areas in South Korea are
dominated by grasses or shrubs, with 3349 neighboring islands being almost entirely dominated
by grassland/shrubland ecosystems which includes ​Ranunculaceae (​ Buttercup), ​Poaceae (​ Grass)
and Taraxacum (​ Dandelions). The northeastern part of South Korea contains majority of the
Temperate Deciduous Forest in the country, which includes species like ​Quercus t​ ype
lepidobalanus​ (Oak), ​Betula​ (Birch) and ​Pinus diploxylon​ (Pine). North of the Korean Peninsula the
vegetation is dominated by the Subalpine Conifer Forest, including ​Sciadopitys (​ Japanese
umbrella pine)​, Cryptomeria​ (Japanese sugi pine), ​Cupressaceae (​ Cypress)

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Figure 2: Main plant formations of the Korean Peninsula (Yi, 2011)

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The largest rivers in South Korea are naturally in low relief areas and flow south west of
South Korea. The east rivers are more susceptible to water runoff due to agricultural usage,
however this heavily depends on precipitation (Bae et. al. 2008).
2.3 The Eastern Sea
The Eastern Sea is a semi-enclosed back-arc basin that borders the Korean Peninsula,
Japan and Russia. It can reach depths up to 3700m but the average depth is 1350m (Tada 1994).
It is heavily influenced by the East Asian Monsoon (EAM) (Igarashi et al 2018) ,with salinity levels
being substantially reduced with high monsoons. The Eastern Sea and is often depicted as having
three main flow paths (or branches) in which one branch circulates along the coast of the west
coast of Honshū, another more central, the third along the Korean coast. This is called the
Tsushima current and is a small part of the Kuroshio current that extends into the Pacific ocean
and flows further north​ (​ Katoh, 1993) (Figure 3)​.

It is hypothesized that the Tsushima current did not circulate during the last glacial
maximum due to low sea level or restriction by land formation (Oba et al., 1991)​. T​ oday it is more
commonly accepted by the scientific community that a weaker version of the Tsushima current
did exist and that the current has always had an impact on the East Sea (Park et al., 2000).
III. METHODS AND MATERIALS

3.1 Material: Modern pollen samples and core ES14-GC1

3.1.1 Modern pollen samples

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The modern pollen samples were collected by Professor Sangheon Yi and his team. The
methods used were separated into five different categories: aerosol, sediment trap, marine
surface sediment, river mouth surface sediment, and core sediment.
River mouth surface sediments were collected from Geum River, Sumjin River, and
Nakdong River in South Korea using a grab sampler (an instrument used to take samples of ocean
sediment). Subsamples of 0−2 cm depth were collected with a stainless spatula and stored in the
pre-combusted glass bottles at -20°C. Marine surface sediment samples were collected from the
East Sea and the Yellow Sea. The East sea sediments were collected during a cruise, using a box
corer (a sampling tool for soft sediments deployed via research vessel) or a multicorer in 2013
and 2012, respectively. A subsample core was collected, the top of the core (0−1 cm) samples of
the acryl core and the multicores were stored in a zipper bag. The Yellow Sea surface sediment
was also collected using a grab sampler.
It was recommended that one sample from per season (Figure 4) be analyzed from the
same area found near the island of Ulleung-Do

HY sample ID Latitude Longitude Sample type Region

Sediment trap
HYG00283 N 37,326 E 131,450 (SPRING) East Sea
Sediment trap
HYG00284 N 37,326 E 131,450 (SPRING) East Sea
HYG00296/0039 Sediment trap
6 N 37,326 E 131,450 (SUMMER) East Sea
Sediment trap
HYG00297 N 37,326 E 131,450 (FALL/WINTER) East Sea
Sediment trap
HYG00299 N 37,326 E 131,450 (FALL/WINTER) East Sea

Marine surface
HYG02183 N 35,900 E 129,767 sediment East Sea
Marine surface
HYG02185 N 35,834 E 129,600 sediment East Sea
Marine surface
HYG02186 N 36,050 E 130,050 sediment East Sea
Marine surface
HYG02187 N 31,652 E 125,207 sediment Northern sea of Jeju-do
Marine surface
HYG02189 N 32,338 E 126,579 sediment Northern sea of Jeju-do

HYG02234/0225 Yellow Sea


0 N 37,423 E 124,738 Aerosol (Socheongcho)

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HYG02235/0225 Yellow Sea
1 N 37,423 E 124,738 Aerosol (Socheongcho)
River mouth
surface
HYG02237 N 36,019 E 126,755 sediment Geum River
River mouth
surface
HYG02238 N 35,018 E 127,786 sediment Sumjin River
River mouth
surface
HYG02239 N 35,073 E 128,877 sediment Nakdong River
Table 1 : Pollen surface samples and locations. In green seasonal samples.
3.1.2 Core ES14-GC1

Over the course of this internship 23 core samples were analyzed, however, due to time
constraints, these samples are not discussed in this report. Core ES14-GC01 was collected on June
20, 2014 during the Korea Ocean Polar Research Institute (KOPRI) "R/V Araon" test campaign. It
was collected at a depth of 2160 meters north-west of the Ulleung Basin, 95 km from the east
coast of South Korea.

It consists mainly of hemi-pelagic sediments and rare layers of volcanic ash, which allow a
continuous recording of terrigenous and oceanic sedimentary deposits of 869 cm in length and
covers a large part of the last ice age. It is located close to the continental shelf, which is narrow
on the eastern part of the Korean peninsula, which leads to small variations in core-to-continent
distance due to sea-level oscillations between glacial and interglacial periods. This parameter has
little effect on the conditions of terrigenous inputs over time.
3.2 Pollen Methodology
3.2.1 Pollen Generalizations

Pollen is found in all flowering plants and is classified as male, multicellular structures that
contain sperm used for germination purposes (Swanson et al 2004). Mature pollen is comprised
of a large vegetative and a small generative cell forming a ‘cell within a cell’ structure. Mature
pollen is enclosed in a specialized wall comprised of an inner layer, or the intine, which is mainly
composed of cellulose and an outer layer, called the exine, mainly composed of sporopollenin
(Rudd et al 2016). Pollen shapes and sizes can range anywhere from small and spherical to large
and cube-like. The exine of a pollen may be “textured”, or “ornamentated”, for evolutionary
purposes.

Pollen can be dispersed by the thousands, often by wind, water, or insect transportation.
This is to ensure the likelihood that the pollen fertilizes a female plant and subsequently ensures
the procreation of the species. Pollen grains found near coastal lines are often adapted to float
on the surfaces of large bodies of water. In the ocean​ ​surface waters, pollen is ingested by
planktonic organisms and later integrated into their fecal pellets or agglomerated with clays

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(Mudie and McCarthy, 2006; Beaudouin et al., 2007). Due to these processes, pollen buoyancy
decreases and is little influenced by ocean currents. It thus becomes an integral part of marine
snow and crosses the water column with a relatively high speed (estimated at 100 m/day in the
Atlantic water column) before being deposited at the bottom of the oceans (Hooghiemstra et al.,
1992).

Plant abundance may be reconstructed from pollen data, past or present, if dispersal
distances of pollen and pollen productivities of each taxon are determined (Theuerkauf et. al.
2013). Climate can also be reconstructed from pollen data, past or present, based on the climate
in which the particular plant thrives in.

3.2.2 Pollen sample preparation


The slides were prepared using an established protocol
(http://www.ephe-paleoclimat.com/ephe/Pollen%20sample%20preparation.htm) in order to
eliminate calcium carbonate particles and silicates while not damaging pollen grains. The
sediment is first dried and weighed and then separated into sections. The coarse section (>150
microns) is used for the study of foraminifera, and the finer section for the study of pollen and
dinoflagellate cysts. The sample is then sorted and washed. A series of treatments are then
administered in order to eliminate calcium carbonate particles and silicates using Hydrofluoric
Acid (HF) and Hydrochloric Acid (HCL).

The cold HCL treatment is used to eliminate calcium carbonate particles. The cold HCL
treatment consists of slowly adding HCL at increasing concentrations, starting at 10% then 25%,
50% and once more at 50%. A cold HF treatment is administered to eliminate silicates and silica.
During this treatment between 40 and 50 ml of cold HF at 70% is added to each tube. The tubes
are capped and put on a shaker for 28 to 30 hours. A second HCL treatment is administered
immediately after the HF treatment in order to prevent fluorides from forming.

The sample is then rinsed with the assistance of a centrifuge, distilled water and a test
tube agitator. After, the sample is filtered through a 10 micron-mesh sieve in a 25cc graduated
cylinder order to eliminate non-pollen micro particles. This requires a filtration system and a
vacuum. A “moving sample” is then mounted with a combination of phenolated bidistilled
glycerin on a hot slide. This can be achieved by creating a one liter 1:98 phenol/glycerol ratio and
sealing it using Histolaque. This type of sample, as compared to a non-moving sample is required
to study pollen in order to view the pollen in its entirety (both polar and equatorial views) thus
providing an accurate identification.

3.2.3 Identification and quantification of pollen grains


The samples were then analyzed and pollen was identified by several major criteria. These
criteria are as follows: general morphology of pollen in polar/equatorial view (round, elongated),
number of openings (pores, furrows), exine structure (ornamentation vs psilate), and general
size.

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Figure 4 (left to right): Abies, ​Exotic added​ (Lycopodium), Sellaginella, Quercus ​type
lepidobalanus, Alnus. P ​ ollen samples were preserved in the Eastern Sea Core sequence​.

A sample with a pollen sum of 200 grains is statistically adequate to produce reliable
estimates of vegetation data. After this value there aren’t significant variations in the widths of
confidence intervals for percentage, while for pollen counts of 100 grains the variation is of ca. 1
%. (Valsecchi et. al. 2012). Ideally, 20 different taxa must be found and identified within the
samples however in certain cases where 20 taxa cannot be achieved, 15 taxa may be acceptable.
An ideal sample must also have at least 100 pollen grains outside of the taxa with the highest
number of pollen.

In cases where pollen cannot be properly identified, it is classified as “broken”, “hidden”,


“corroded”, “crumpled”, or “unknown”. Broken pollen is pollen that has certain characteristics
but cannot be properly identified due to missing an important part of its “body”. Hidden pollen is
pollen that cannot be identified due to being unable to be moved or covered completely by
silicates , organic material, or other pollen. Corroded pollen is pollen that appears ripped or
jagged and consequently the criteria for identification are not visible. Crumpled pollen is pollen
that has certain characteristics of different pollen taxa but cannot be identified beyond a
reasonable doubt due to “folding in” on itself or resembling something crumpled. Unknown
pollen is pollen that has clear pollen characteristics but cannot be identified due to being entirely
unfamiliar to the area it resides or by simply not appearing in the research papers/books
available. The spores of fern and mosses are also identified by the type of opening: “trilete”
(“triradiate” scar) or “monolete” (the scar is an elongate opening). Additionally spores can be

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identified by the presence of ornamentation or lack of.​ ​For instance ​ Sphagnum​ is a moss and its
spores are classified as “triradiate” or etc., or algae.

Pollen was inspected and identified using a ZEISS Primo Star microscope provided by the
EPOC laboratory of the Université de Bordeaux. Pollen was identified using microscope photos of
fossilized pollen provided by Nathan Jaouen using the microscope camera AxioCam ICc, “Pollen et
spores d’Europe et d’Afrique du Nord” by Maurice Reille, and “Diagnostic characters of pollen
grains of Japan” a Japanese pollen atlas by Jun Nakamura. Maria Fernanda Sanchez-Goñi and
Sangheon Yi gave any other assistance needed with pollen identification due to their expertise in
pollen identification. All communication with Professor Yi was done via email. A total of 8691.5
pollen grains were identified during this internship and a total of 50 different taxa. The number of
taxa, composite depth, number of pollen per taxa and number of pollen overall were recorded
using Microsoft Excel

3.2.4 Representing the results


The results were displayed via pie graph and histogram to represent the percentage of
ecological communities and the percentage of pollen morphotypes represented. Pollen was
grouped into 5 distinct biomes as determined by a publication written by H. Takahara et al.,
(2010), which analyzes and categorizes vegetation found in Japan, except Hokkaido. There were
14 taxa not found within this paper that were subsequently categorized as grassland/shrubland
by Maria Fernanda Sanchez-Goñi based on her expertise. The ecological communities are as
follows:
Grasslands and Shrubs​ contains ​Thalictrum,​ ​ Fabaceae, Cyperaceae,​ ​Sanguisorba minor​,
Rumex​, ​Ranunculaceae,​ ​Poaceae​, ​Caryophyllaceae,​ ​Aster,​ ​Artemisia,​ ​Chenopodiaceae,​ ​Rosaceae,​
Urtica,​ ​Rumex,​ ​Plantago​, ​Cannabis,​ ​Buxus,​ ​Helianthemum​, ​Rhus,​ ​Vitis,​ ​Ericaceae,​ ​Myrica,​
Ephedra-dystachia type,​ ​E. fragilis-type​, ​Taraxacum,​ and ​Apiaceae.​ This group, as determined by
its name, contains a great deal of grasses and shrubs and is categorized by its ability to survive
from semi-arid to humid climates in low latitude (Congcong et al 2014).

Warm Temperate Broadleaf Evergreen Forest ​contains ​Ilex​ and ​Quercus t​ ype
cyclobalanopsis.​ This ecological community is composed of species found in warm to temperate
areas and has broad leaves (broad leaf) and rarely sheds its leaves (evergreen).

T​ emperate Broadleaf Deciduous Forest​ contains ​Salix, Quercus t​ ype​ lepidobalanus,


Ulmus, Tilia, Juglans, Fraxinus, Fagus, Corylus, Castanea, Carpinus, Betula, Alnus, a​ nd​ Acer.​ This
ecological community is found in a temperate area with trees that have broad leaves (broadleaf)
and shed annually (deciduous).

Needleleaf Evergreen Forest ​contains ​Tsuga, Abies, Pinus, Picea, Sciadopitys,


Cryptomeria, Cupressaceae .​ This ecological community is composed of trees with needle-like
leaves (needleleaf) and sheds rarely (evergreen).

Needleleaf Deciduous Forest​ contains ​Larix​.

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Originally, there were seven different ecological communities, however, these were
condensed into five different ecological communities in order to properly represent the
present-day vegetation communities of South Korea. The present day vegetation map was
created by EPOC Research Engineer Vincent Hanquiez. Three communities were combined: Cool
Conifer Forest (​Tsuga, Abies, Pinus),​ Cold Evergreen Needleleaf Forest (​Picea)​ and Temperate
Needleleaf Forest (​Sciadopitys, Cryptomeria, Cupressaceae)​ in order to create ​Needleleaf
Evergreen Forest​.​ Larix​ was not found in this study, hence the lack of Needleleaf Deciduous
Forest representation in the maps and graphs (Figure 6).

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Figure 5: Map of South Korea with surface samples and vegetation distribution. Green:
Temperate Broadleaf Forest; Dark green: Warm Temperate Broadleaf Evergreen Forest; Blue:
Evergreen Needleleaf Forest; Dark blue: Needleleaf Deciduous Forest (Larix); Yellow: Grasslands
and Shrubs.
IV. RESULTS AND INTERPRETATION
4.1 Pollen Assemblages Over Different Seasons
Surface samples were collected at 37.326 °N and 131.450 °E across different seasons by
Professor Yi and the group at Hanyang University in order to examine seasonal changes in
vegetation. These samples are located between two small islands. The vegetation of the western
island includes a small population of Needleleaf Deciduous Forest (​Larix)​ .

In analyzing these samples, we found that two samples that were collected in the spring
(HYG 00283 and HYG 00284) had higher Temperate Broadleaf Deciduous forest pollen
percentages, dominated by ​Alnus,​ pollen, than any of the other samples, implying that the
sample was taken at the mouth of a river-basin where ​Alnus​ is known to reside.

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Figures 7-9 (Above): taxa histograms and ecological group pie charts of HYG 00283 and
HYG 00284), taxa histogram and ecological group pie chart of HYG 00296, taxa histograms and
ecological group pie charts of HYG 0297
The sample collected in summer consisted of ​Pinus​ Diploxylon with ​Quercus​ type
​ eing the second most dominant taxa. Sample HYG 00296 contained 17 taxa and
lepidobalanus b
150 pollen grains.
​ iploxylon. Sample HYG 0297
Samples collected in fall/winter consisted of mostly ​Pinus D
contained 24 taxa while sample 00299 contained only 7. However, as sample 00299 had only 50
pollen (as opposed to 100 pollen) it cannot be a statistically accurate pollen representation of the
vegetation in this season.
All samples consisted of mainly three ecological groups, Temperate Broadleaf Deciduous
Forest, Grassland and Shrubs and Needleleaf Evergreen Forest. Spring samples were comprised of
mainly Temperate Broadleaf Deciduous Forest, while summer sample HYG 00396 and fall/winter
sample HYG 0297 were composed of Needleleaf Evergreen Forest. Only sample HYG 00283 and
HYG 00396 contained a small percentage of Warm-Temperate Broadleaf Evergreen Forest.
4.1.2. Modern Pollen Assemblages At Different Locations
Along the eastern coast of South Korea, samples HYG 02186, HYG 02183 and HYG 02185
were collected. HYG 02186 was located the farthest from the coast (approximately 40 km) while
HYG 02183 was 12 km from the coast and HYG 02185 directly on the coast. Despite there being
no visible Temperate Broadleaf Deciduous Forest populations over 80km from these samples in
any direction, Temperate Broadleaf Deciduous Forest is present in these samples. These samples
contained mostly Needleleaf Evergreen Forest; due to there being a large Needleleaf Evergreen
Forest Community 4km from the coast.

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Figure 10: Collection area and histograms of samples HYG 02186, HYG 02183 and HYG
02185
On the southeast coast of South Korea, sample HYG 02239 was collected. This sample was
located directly on the coast which is comprised of mainly Grassland and Needleleaf Evergreen
Forest species. This sample contained Temperate Broadleaf Deciduous Forest taxa despite the
fact that there are no visible Temperate Broadleaf Deciduous Forest taxa represented within 40
km of the sampling area in any direction. This sample was also comprised of over 80% Needleleaf
Evergreen Forest species. This sample was low in diversity, with only 12 taxa found as opposed to
the recommended 20.

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Figure 11: Collection area and histogram of sample HYG 02239
Directly south and inland, samples HYG 02238 and SJ2 1608 were collected. The area in
which they were collected is dominated by Grassland and Temperate Broadleaf Deciduous Forest
with small patches of Needleleaf Deciduous Forest southwest from the samples. There are two
Warm Temperate Broadleaf Evergreen Forest patches located 36 km northwest from the
sampling area and no Temperate Broadleaf Deciduous Forest patches 40 km in any direction from
the sampling area. Both samples were dominated by Needleleaf Evergreen Forest with HYG
02238 containing 8% more Grassland taxa than SJ2 1608 and SJ2 1608 containing 20% more
Needleleaf Evergreen Forest than HYG 02238.

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32
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Figure 12: Collection area and histograms of samples HYG 02238 and SJ2 1608
Further southwest, sample KJS 16S14 was collected near atolls that are entirely composed
of Grassland species. KJS 16S14, however, cannot be considered an accurate representation of
the vegetation in that particular area due to the sample containing only 36 pollen (as opposed to
the 100 pollen minimum required to be statistically accurate) and 9 taxa.
Further south, near Jeju island, are samples HYG 02189 and HYG 02187. The samples are
100 km apart with HYG 02187 being the furthest south. There are no large patches of visible
Temperate Broadleaf Deciduous Forest over 200 km in any direction from the samples yet HYG
02189 contains over 30% of this ecological group. HYG 02187 cannot be representative of the
vegetation in South Korea, because of the limited amount of pollen that was counted in the
sample (10 instead of 100) and the amount of taxa available (7 instead of the preferred 20). The
majority of the taxa on Jeju island, the southernmost point of South Korea and the western point
of Japan are Grassland taxa or Needleleaf Evergreen Forest.

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Figure 13: Collection area and histogram of sample HYG 02189
Samples GR4 1608 and HYG 02237 were sampled from the western coast of South Korea.
The area in which they were sampled is almost entirely comprised of Grassland taxa. This was
reflected in sample HYG 02237 which was composed of over 96% Grassland taxa with 3%
Temperate Broadleaf Deciduous Forest. Sample GR4 1608 was composed of 80% Temperate
Broadleaf Deciduous Forest however the nearest group was 20 km away and less than 4 km² in
area.

36
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Figure 14: Collection area and histograms of samples GR4 1608 and HYG 02237

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The northwestern coast of South Korea is where samples HYG 02235 and HYG 02234 were
collected. The area which was sampled was approximately 40 km southwest from the coast,
which is mainly comprised of Grassland taxa. Sample HYG 02235 is composed of over 90%
Grassland taxa and 10% Temperate Broadleaf Deciduous Forest. Sample HYG 02234 is entirely
composed of Temperate Broadleaf Deciduous Forest. However, sample HYG 02234 cannot be
considered representative of the vegetation in the area because only 4 pollen were found in the
sample (as opposed to the 100 minimum amount required to be statistically accurate) and all the
pollen found were from the same taxa (20 taxa is preferred). 5 taxa were found in sample HYG
02235, making it the least diverse (viable) sample in this report.

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Figure 15: Collection area and histograms of sample HYG 02235
The most dominant pollen overall was ​Pinus ​diploxylon, which comprised the majority of
samples like GR4 1608 (80%), HYG 02239 (76%), SJ2 1608 (74%), and HYG 02186 (72%). However,
in certain cases, no member of the Coniferae class (​Pinus, Picea, Abies)​ dominated the sample
and instead a member of the grassland ecological group was most represented like HYG 00283
and HYG 00284 which were both comprised of 47% and 34%​, ​respectively. The most surprising
outcome was HYG 02237 which contained 80% ​Taraxacum​, a taxa that had only made up 1% or
2% of the other surface samples. In many cases ​Pinus d​ iploxylon type was the dominant taxa and
in others ​Quercus​ type ​lepidobalanus​ was.
V. DISCUSSION
In regards to modern pollen samples that were collected in the same area in different
seasons, samples that were collected in the spring (HYG00283 and HYG 00284) were located in
between Ulleung-Do island and a nearby atoll facing winds coming from the northwest. This was
reflected in the way that both samples reflected taxa belonging to the Temperate Broadleaf
Deciduous Forest ecosystem, which is an ecosystem that exists on Ulleung-Do island and not the
atoll.​ ​Sample HYG 00296, however, had summer wind flows coming from the southeast meaning
that it should represent mostly (if not entirely) Grassland/shrub ecosystem due to the wind
picking up pollen and carrying it upward into the sampling area. This was not the case, as majority
of the sample was comprised of Needleleaf Deciduous Forest. Samples collected in the fall, HYG
00297 and HYG 00299, were affected by winds traveling north or northeast. This implies that the
pollen would be coming from the atoll and therefore should be mostly grasses and shrubs.

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In samples collected from other areas, Temperate Deciduous Forest was present when
none were represented on the map. Winds from the northwest could possibly lead to Temperate
Deciduous Forest to becoming represented in samples HYG02185, HYG02183, HYG02186,
HYG002239, HYG 02238 and SJ2 1608. This is implying that these samples were taken in the
spring or winter. Summer winds coming from the south could account for the Temperate
Deciduous Forest presence in sample HYG 02189, while winds from the north or south could
account for its presence in samples GR4 1608 and HYG 02237. Fall winds from the northeast
clearly impacted sample HYG02235 in representing Grassland and Temperate Deciduous Forest
accurately.
It is important to note that the map used for this report does not have the capacity to
recognize specific species. It is because of this reason that a more accurate representation of
South Korean vegetation was requested, however, it was never received.
VI. CONCLUSION
In order to gain more information about the area, more data would need to be extracted.
This data includes possible pollen transported by the run-off, seasonal wind direction; The data
does seem to suggest that ecological groups like Warm-Temperate Broadleaf Evergreen Forest
and Needleleaf Deciduous Forest are less likely to be represented via pollen traps. ​ However,
pollen spectra globally gives a good image of the proportion of the different types of present-day
ecological groups with the dominance of Needleleaf Evergreen Forest, Temperate Broadleaf
Forest and Grasslands. T​he work done in this report will be used to accurately interpret fossilized
pollen from this region which could lead to interpreting past climate changes and past vegetation
distributions.

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