The Palynology of Urban Environments: A new method for the classification of palynological distinct urban environments for forensic purposes
Vliet, J.W.K. van
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Pollen are used by both Earth scientists and forensic investigators. Both frequently cope with small quantities of pollen with an unknown source. Provenancing of samples to the source location can be a delicate business, especially in urban environments. Few data is available and the variation of pollen assemblages within an urban area is not yet readily evident. This research presents the data of pollen from various urban environments and provides the tools for the appropriate classification of samples with an anthropogenic background. This is done by deriving characteristics such as dominance and diversity from the pollen data using ecologic and statistic methods usually applied in climate studies. The characteristics are combined in a provenancing framework, which has both illustrative and quantitative components. Validation and improvement of the provenancing model occurs through testing with additional data from arbitrary locations provided by the Netherlands Forensic Institute. The derived characteristics show differentiation between multiple palynological environments within urban areas and together they provide a first classification. When the pollen source is unknown, a multivariable approach shows the capability of confining the search area by excluding improbable urban environments. In some scenarios it is possible the indicate the most probable environment of the pollen source. An iterative approach by further extension of the database and enhancing of the model is recommended for more reliable classification and provenancing.