Abstract

The different geographical origins of Baltic, Bitterfeld and Ukrainian ambers may be reflected in differences in their preserved fungal spores and plant pollen. In this study, over 573 palynomorphs were isolated through solvent extraction and the differences in their morphological characteristics examined using conventional transmitted light microscopy to explore this hypothesis. The spore spectra in the Baltic, Bitterfeld and Ukrainian samples differed considerably whereas the pollen spectra differed only marginally. In the Ukrainian ambers, the isolated fungal spores were primarily basidiomycetes (mostly Coprinus s.l., Strophariaceae and similar taxa with thick-walled, melanised spores), indicative of a moist environment rich in decaying plant debris. The first amber-based evidence for Ilex was found in the Bitterfeld samples and for members of the Juglandaceae in those from the Baltic. Overall, the pollen spectra were consistent with earlier findings on Eocene-Oligocene vegetation and climate. The mixed forests of those geological epochs are the hallmark of a habitat containing multifaceted niches for animals and obviously fungi.

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