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Significance testing testate amoeba water table reconstructions

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  • Richard J. Payne
  • Kirill V. Babeshko
  • Simon van Bellen
  • Jeffrey J. Blackford
  • Robert K. Booth
  • Dan J. Charman
  • Megan R. Ellershaw
  • Daniel Gilbert
  • Paul D M Hughes
  • Vincent E J Jassey
  • Łukasz Lamentowicz
  • Mariusz Lamentowicz
  • Elena A. Malysheva
  • Dmitri Mauquoy
  • Yuri Mazei
  • Edward A D Mitchell
  • Graeme T. Swindles
  • Andrey N. Tsyganov
  • T. Edward Turner
  • Richard J. Telford


Publication details

JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
DateAccepted/In press - 29 Jan 2016
DateE-pub ahead of print - 15 Feb 2016
DatePublished (current) - 15 Apr 2016
Number of pages5
Pages (from-to)131-135
Early online date15/02/16
Original languageEnglish


Transfer functions are valuable tools in palaeoecology, but their output may not always be meaningful. A recently-developed statistical test ('randomTF') offers the potential to distinguish among reconstructions which are more likely to be useful, and those less so. We applied this test to a large number of reconstructions of peatland water table depth based on testate amoebae. Contrary to our expectations, a substantial majority (25 of 30) of these reconstructions gave non-significant results (P > 0.05). The underlying reasons for this outcome are unclear. We found no significant correlation between randomTF P-value and transfer function performance, the properties of the training set and reconstruction, or measures of transfer function fit. These results give cause for concern but we believe it would be extremely premature to discount the results of non-significant reconstructions. We stress the need for more critical assessment of transfer function output, replication of results and ecologically-informed interpretation of palaeoecological data.

Bibliographical note

Embargo Period 24 months. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd

    Research areas

  • Palaeoecology, Palaeohydrology, Protist, RandomTF, Testate amoeba, Transfer function

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