The performance of single- and multi-proxy transfer functions (testate amoebae, bryophytes, vascular plants) for reconstructing mire surface wetness and pH
Peatlands are widely exploited archives of paleoenvironmental change. We developed and compared multiple transfer functions to infer peatland depth to the water table (DWT) and pH based on testate amoeba (percentages, or presence/absence), bryophyte presence/absence, and vascular plant presence/absence data from sub-alpine peatlands in the SE Swiss Alps in order to 1) compare the performance of single-proxy vs. multi-proxy models and 2) assess the performance of presence/absence models. Bootstrapping cross-validation showing the best performing single-proxy transfer functions for both DWT and pH were those based on bryophytes. The best performing transfer functions overall for DWF were those based on combined testate amoebae percentages, bryophytes and vascular plants; and, for pH, those based on testate amoebae and bryophytes. The comparison of DWT and pH inferred from testate amoeba percentages and presence/absence data showed similar general patterns but differences in the magnitude and timing of some shifts. These results show new directions for paleoenvironmental research, 1) suggesting that it is possible to build good-performing transfer functions using presence/absence data, although with some loss of accuracy, and 2) supporting the idea that multi-proxy inference models may improve paleoecological reconstruction. The performance of multi-proxy and single-proxy transfer functions should be further compared in paleoecological data. (C) 2012 University of Washington. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.