This chapter is written for those coming newly to the techniques of pollen analysis. In writing it, we assume a researcher working in an institution where library resources are not large and where there is no prior tradition of palynological work. We concentrate on what is important to palynology in the Amazon. While we do expound some elementary fundamentals of palynology, intended for someone new to the subject, we do not pretend a comprehensive coverage. For this consult the standard works: Faegri and Iversen, 1989; Moore et al., 1991; Salgado-Labouriau, 1973.1


As soon as core sections are brought in from the field they should, if at all possible, be stored in a cold room at 4°C A prime reason for this is to prevent the growth of mold fungi on the sediments, which can interfere with radiocarbon dating. To the extent that these fungi merely metabolize carbon compounds from the sediments their effect on dating is neutral, but unfortunately, fungi exchange CO2 with the atmosphere in the course of their respiration, thus contaminating the sediments with modern carbon. So keep the sediments cool. Try also to exclude oxygen by ensuring that the core tubes are properly sealed before placing them in the cold room. If sediments have been extruded in the field (not recommended), see that they are well wrapped, preferably in saran wrap (which provides a gas-impermeable seal), rather than polyethylene (which allows slow gas exchange). Once cores have been opened, they must also be well-wrapped in saran for safe keeping.