53rd Annual Meeting of the AASP-The Palynological Society

The 53rd Annual Meeting of the AASP-The Palynological Society August 9-13, 2021, will take place virtually for the first time this year and is hopefully only a temporary measure until we can all meet up in person once again.

The meeting will be hosted by the NHM on GOTO Webinar which is a platform designed to host meetings such as this and will create a simple, safe and secure way for everyone to attend the conference.

We have thought long and hard about the event format, and have decided to host relatively short days to avoid online ‘fatigue’. The schedule will be designed to accommodate the majority of delegates but we will record all or parts of the meeting for delegates to view at a more convenient time.

In due course, we will be organising some ‘social’ events and society business event. Details to follow.

Some important deadlines:
Abstracts for posters and talks are due on July 9, 2021
Registration is due by August 1, 2021

Technical sessions
In addition to offering at least two general technical sessions where we will accept talks and posters for any palynological discipline, we have three proposed special sessions:

  1. Beyond Miscellaneous: The Life and Legacy of Vaughn M. Bryant
    Chair: Tim Riley

Vaughn M. Bryant influenced generations of scholars within both palynology and paleoethnobotany. Tireless and always curious, Vaughn was always interested in the intersection of palynology and other disciplines, contributing to the fields of melissopalynology, forensic palynology, paleoecology and the study of human coprolites. He helped students and others apply palynological techniques to novel archaeological settings such as the contents of amphora from shipwrecks and the caulking of sewn plank boats. This session will bring together students and colleagues of the late Vaughn Bryant to celebrate his life and discuss his impact on many sub‐fields of palynology.    

Keynote speaker: Kristin D. Sobolik, Office of the Chancellor, University of Missouri-St. Louis, USA. Vaughn M. Bryant: Words of Wisdom, Lessons Learned, and a Life Well Lived.

Vaughn M. Bryant was a true interdisciplinary scholar, someone who welcomed and sought information, ideas, and processes from across scientific disciplines to obtain different ways of viewing the world and the past. These diverse viewpoints and ideas are apparent in the hundreds of publications he has authored and in the directions he has taken throughout his scientific career, from botany, geology, palynology, archaeology, and forensic honey research, to teaching, advising, and mentoring, and even into administration where he served a short stint as department chair for 24 years. Vaughn was a major contributor and scientific game changer for more than 50 years, helping pioneer and develop the fields of paleoethnobotany, coprolite analysis, and forensic palynology, with publications disseminated broadly throughout the top scientific venues including Science, Ecology, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Quaternary Research, Forensic Science International, and Palynology, as well as more popular venues such as Dig Magazine, Odyssey, and media including CBS News, FOX News, BBC, 3-2-1 Contact, and the Today Show.
Vaughn’s greatest accomplishments, however, are in the thousands of undergraduate students he has taught and the graduate students he has mentored and who carry on the torch of his knowledge, teaching, productivity, professionalism, humanism, and overall life philosophies. Vaughn chaired or co-chaired dissertations of more that 40 doctoral students. Many went on in archaeology, and others focused their research on the use of botanical skills and pollen analyses in geology, geography, entomology, agriculture, and forensics. Still others took the life skills that Vaughn helped instill and are making productive lives in a number of diverse careers.
Vaughn is the epitome of a life well lived. He is lauded as a pioneer, game-changer, and leader in his profession. He has received numerous awards from Texas A&M University where he taught for 50 years, as well as the Fryxell Award for Outstanding Botanical Research in Archaeology presented by the Society for American Archaeology, and the Distinguished Service Award, the Honorary Membership Award, and the Medal for Scientific Excellence from his beloved American Association of Stratigraphic Palynologists, for whom he served as President from 1994-95. Vaughn’s 60-year marriage to Carol, their three children, numerous grandchildren, and precious dogs were the love of Vaughn’s life. This keynote will encompass Vaughn’s life and impact, with Vaughn’s words of wisdom, life’s lessons, and numerous photos along the way. He is surely missed, and his impact is immense.

2. In situ spores and pollen
Chair: Evelyn Kustatscher
Co-chair: Hendrik Nowak

Dispersed spores and pollen provide a vast amount of information about the vegetation of the past, but in order to fully utilize this information, we need to understand their connections with biological plant groups. This requires knowledge of the spores and pollen as they are found in situ in the reproductive organs of fossil and recent macroplants. Conversely, detailed analyses of the reproductive organs of fossil plants their in situ spores and pollen are often crucial for the precise identification and classification of the whole plant, as well as for ecological interpretations. The combination of palaeobotanical and palynological studies thus contributes to a better understanding of the biology, geological distribution, and environmental context of past floral elements, and to the evolutionary relationships between major plant groups.

Keynote speaker: Jiří Bek, Department of Palaeobiology and Palaeoecology v.v.i., Institute of Geology of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic “Some aspects of Paleozoic in situ spores

The research of in situ spores and pollen, i.e. fossil spores and pollen isolated directly from reproductive organs of their parent plants has a long history. First reported in situ spores are megaspores of arborescent lycopsids that were described in the first half of 19th Century. This type of the research combines palynological and palaeobotanical methods and is perfect opportunity for collaboration of palynologists and paleobotanists. In situ spores can help with definition of dispersed taxa including emendation of diagnoses. Sometimes identical in situ spores can help with synonymization of their parent plants. In situ spores isolated from holotypes of plants complete their diagnoses.
It is possible to recognize six major aspects of this inter-disciplinary research.
1) Certainty about in situ origin of spores and pollen. The best way is careful preparation and maceration of the spores resulted findings of whole sporangia or their fragments. Important is precise maceration avoids the contamination by dispersed spores.
2) LM versus SEM. Diagnoses and descriptions of fossil spore and pollen taxa are based on LM observation and this method has priority over SEM. We cannot be quite sure using SEM about inner morphology of the spores and pollen and classification of in situ spores based only on SEM may be questionable.
3) Relationships of spores and their parent plants. This is major role of this type of the research i.e. which plants produced certain spores and pollen.
4) Determination of plants. Sometimes palaeobotanists have no idea about affinity of plant specimens and palynologists can hep them with right classification based on previously described in situ spores and pollen.
5) Variations of spores. Important is recognise natural and ontogenetic variations. It is not exceptional if in situ spores are assigned to more than one dispersed species or even more than species of more spore/pollen genera. Sometimes ontogenetic stages are the reason, sometimes man-made system of classification of dispersed spore/pollen taxa.
6) Man-made versus natural taxa. This is very important aspect for grouping of fertile plant specimens. Palaeobotanists almost ignored palynological results and often grouped taxa producing monolete, trilete, operculate, laevigate, sculptured into one genus. Only the combination of palaeobotanical and palynological methods can lead to the classification of fertile plants that will be more close to natural fossil plant taxa.
Simply close collaboration of palynologists and palaeobotanists is needed.

3. Precambrian Palynology  
Chair: Evelyn A. M. Sanchez
Co-chair: Thomas Rich Fairchild

Discussion of key-events in the evolutionary history of Precambrian plankton: the Archean record – morphology, biogenicity, biological affinities.   Eukaryogenesis: timing, morphodisparity, palaeoecological background and/or consequences during the Proterozoic.   Refinement of palynomorph-based proposals for Proterozoic biostratigraphy: useful corroboration or useful contradiction?

Keynote speaker: Dr. Kathleen Grey, Geological Survey of Western Australia “Review of Australian Precambrian palynology”.

Near-continuous records of Precambrian organic-walled microfossils (OWMs) are present in Australia’s largely undeformed sedimentary basins. Records of OWMs are mainly in chert, morphologically simple and facies controlled, so are generally unsuitable for biostratigraphy, causing doubt that Phanerozoic palynological methods can be applied to the Precambrian. However, selected examples indicate that palynology can be a potential tool for correlating some ancient successions. Complex OWMs, including films, filaments, hollow spheres and lenticular microfossils with a flange, are present in the Paleoarchean Strelley Pool Fm (3426–3350 Ma) and Mesoarchean Farrel Quartzite (3066–3022 Ma), Pilbara, WA. Palynological extraction and taphonomic analysis support their biogenicity. Neoarchean and late Paleoproterozoic assemblages are rare. Diverse morphotypes are present in chert in the Turee Creek Gp (2420–2208 Ma) of WA. Some resemble OWMs in the Gunflint Chert (c. 1878 Ma) of North America and Duck Creek Dolomite (2008–1799 Ma) and Frere Fm (1891–1876 Ma) of WA, but systematic studies are needed. Several mid to late Paleoproterozoic chert units (2.0–1.6 Ma) contain OWMs, typically simple or septate filaments and spheres. Few OWMs have complex characteristics useful for biostratigraphy. This contrasts with the Mesoproterozoic, especially the McArthur Basin, NT, where exploration has provided continuous cores through palynologically suitable successions. Preliminary palynology indicates considerable scope for additional work, particularly in the Roper Gp (1493–1324 Ma), Beetaloo Sub-basin, which hosts proven hydrocarbon source rocks. Tappania plana, filaments and spheres occur in the lower Roper Gp and suggest facies control. However, the overlying Velkerri, Kyalla and Chambers River Fms show promise for biostratigraphic zonation based on diverse assemblages. Species descriptions and analysis of their distributions are needed. The late Mesoproterozoic and early Neoproterozoic (Tonian) are poorly studied. Limited records indicate the usual filaments and small spheres, but large spheres and clusters of spheres (Synsphaeridium and Symplassosphaeridium) become predominant. The late Tonian is best characterized by chert and siltstone assemblages in the Johnnys Creek Fm, Amadeus Basin (Bitter Springs Gp and correlatives in other Neoproterozoic basins). The overlying Wallara Fm (and correlatives) contain Cerebrosphaera buickii, a potential stratigraphic marker. Reworked fragments occur in tillite in the Sturt glacial deposits. The Aralka Fm (Amadeus Basin) and correlatives are mostly barren despite lithologies appearing ideal for palynology. A new species of Vandalosphaeridium is present in the middle of the formation. The overlying Elatina glacials and equivalents have a few reworked organic fragments. The Ediacaran, above the glacial, is perhaps palynologically the most comprehensively studied Precambrian succession. Twenty mostly continuous cores, from four tectonic units, contain morphologically complex, taxonomically diverse acritarchs. Proposed correlations and zones correspond to lithostratigraphy, isotope chemostratigraphy, stromatolite biostratigraphy and seismic and sequence stratigraphy, but additional studies of unexamined drillholes and cored intervals are needed. Nevertheless, the Australian Ediacaran provides a classic example of how palynology and biostratigraphy can be applied to Precambrian successions.

Abstract submissions
Abstracts are due by July 2, 2021. Please follow the template below for the submission of your Abstract. Submissions which do not adhere to this format will be returned for editing before acceptance or rejected. Abstracts should be sent to Stephen Stukins (S.Stukins@nhm.ac.uk).

This year we will be accepting abstracts for live oral and poster presentations. For the live oral presentations both standard talks (i.e., 12-minute talk with 3 minutes for questions) and lightning talks associated with posters (2-minute talk, maximum 2 slides) will be accepted. We encourage all poster presenters to present a lightning talk. Note, students who would like to be eligible for the Vaughn Bryant Best Poster Award will be required to present a lightning talk with their poster.

Member – US$5.00
Non-Member – US$10.00

Thanks to some kind donations from the AASP-TPS Board of Directors, we are also pleased to offer free registration to 10 delegates (non-AASP-TPS members) from low, lower-middle, upper-middle Economies. To apply for the free registration please email s.stukins@nhm.ac.uk by the 15th June providing a brief description of your palynological research and stating if you intend to submit an abstract or not (poster or talk). Please apply before paying for registration, we will not accept applications for refunds of registration fees.


Organising committee
Alexander Ball (acball1@sheffield.ac.uk)
Damián Cárdenas Loboguerrero (dcvvt@mst.edu)
Jim Riding (jbri@bgs.ac.uk)
Kimberley Bell (kimberley.bell@petrostrat.com)
Stephen Stukins (S.Stukins@nhm.ac.uk)
Vera Korasidis (korasidisv@si.edu)