78 scientists gathered in Arbois to discuss the scientific value and organisation of palaeodatabases with special focus on the European Pollen Database (EPD). 22 EUROCORES scientists participated including Dr. Daniela Turk representing ESF. The meeting was co-funded by EU Network of Excellence EVOLTREE together with individual registrations. Invited lectures were presented in two sessions: 1. Use of palaeodatabases and 2. Database organisation. The use of palaeodatabases included examples from North American animal and plant databases and their application to climatic research and the study of biodiversity development through time. Pollen databases have been used to test climate and vegetation models run under past conditions. Such testing is of importance to improve the ability of these research tools to model future climate scenarios. The use of pollen databases in development of the modern genetic structure of European forests was reviewed, as was the reconstruction of changing European land-cover, which has important feedbacks to the climate system. The role of databases as secure archives compared with research tools was explored and developments in database technology and organisation were presented. These include the founding of a new, global, multi-proxy palaeoecological database. 31 poster presentations supported the themes of the lectures.
One day was devoted to developing proposals for the re-launching of the EPD as the database has lain dormant since 2000. The meeting was divided into three working groups: 1. Desired uses of the palaeodatabase; 2. Administrative structure; 3. Database structure. A working group co-ordinated by Richard Bradshaw was formed to manage the EPD on an interim basis and prepare a full proposal for future organisation to be presented at the International Palynological Congress in Bonn 2008.
Most of the participants took part in a one-day excursion to the Champsaur basin, where the Holocene vegetational development and the origin of the present landscape were presented, based on palaeoecological records from several sedimentary basins. On return from the field-trip, four popular training workshops concluded the meeting on the topics: 1. Multivariate methods; 2. Data-model comparison; 3. Pollen-land surface calibration; 4. Age-depth modelling. The financial support of ESF through the EuroCLIMATE programme and the helpful participation of Dr. Daniela Turk are gratefully acknowledged.Richard Bradshaw