Photo gallery
Taxa list


The database is hosted by Kiel University
and is established by Magda Wieckowska-
Lüth, Wiebke Kirleis and Kay Schmütz,
Institute for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology.

© Wieckowska-Lüth/Kirleis/Schmütz 2020

Different pollen-bearing-sediment archives contain an abundance of “extra” microfossils. These so-called non-pollen palynomorphs (NPPs) comprise a wide variety of organisms, including fungal spores and hyphae, algal cells and cysts, cyanobacteria, testate amoebae, eggshells of parasites, and other remains of invertebrates and plants from a diversity of ecological niches. Many of the NPPs are characterized by their emergence only under certain circumstances, such as the presence of decaying plant matter, wood and dung, under specific moisture levels, nutrient and salinity conditions, during parasitic infestation, as well as after fire or erosion events. This and the fact that most of the NPPs are, in contrast to pollen, of autochthonous origin, makes them valuable indicators of local environmental conditions.

Starting in the late 1960s with the systematic work of Thomas van Hammen and his student Bas van Geel – the later vital promoter of this special field of palynology – at the Hugo de Vries-Laboratory at Amsterdam University, over one thousand NPP-types have been photographed, described and taxonomically identified. Their indicator value has been illustrated by several palaeoecological, archaeological, limnological, geological and climatological studies.

However, the scattered information and photographs on NPPs in a wide range of journals from different scientific disciplines make the search for a suitable indicator quite challenging and risks neglecting the analysis of NPPs in palynological studies. This causes a loss in valuable supplementary information for the (palaeo)ecological, archaeobotanical, and archaeological research. This database bundles the existing data on these additional indicators in pollen slides, using “the list of Quaternary NPP-types” provided by Miola (2012), and supplements these with data from later publications. With its 1461 entries, it facilitates a simpler and faster access to information on all kind of NPP-types described so far. It thus offers the opportunity for palynologists, (palaeo)ecologists, archaeologists, students, and interested public to be informed about the subfossil and modern occurrence of NPPs and on their (palaeo)environmental indication.

The database offers multiple search options. Besides a direct search for NPP-types and a taxa list, the database also provides a photo gallery based on newly generated images. An additional classification into NPP categories and, in the case of highly diverse groups (fungi), also into subcategories to help further narrow down the search.