Varved, black clayey silts deposited in the marine waters of Saanich Inlet yield unusually abundant and diverse pollen assemblages derived from the coastal Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga) and western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) forests of southwestern British Columbia. The 12 000 year palynological record chronicles the development of vegetation since ice left Saanich Inlet: the succession of pine (Pinus contorta) and alder (Alnus rubra) woodlands by forests characterized by Douglas-fir and oak (Quercus) and later by western hemlock and red cedar (Thuja plicata). Rapid deposition of annual layers of pollen, charcoal, and other terrigenous particles provides detailed evidence of changes in land use during the past few hundred years: settlement, logging, farming, and urbanization. Vegetational and climatic changes inferred from pollen spectra in the marine sediments of Saanich Inlet compare favorably with changes inferred from correlative pollen assemblages previously described from adjacent parts of Vancouver Island and the Fraser River valley.

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