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Dr. Mark B. Bush

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Pollen database
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Department of Biology


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    Department of Biology
    Harris Building
    Room 225
    150 West University Blvd.
    Melbourne, FL 32901

Email Email: paleolab@fit.edu
Telephone Ph: +1 (321) 674-7283
Fax Fx: +1 (321) 674-7238

Pollen database

Citation: Bush, M.B. and Weng, M.B. 2006. Introducing a new (freeware) tool for palynology. Journal
              of Biogeography 34: 377-380.
Get a copy

To register and download the Neotropical Pollen Database ||click here||.


  1. Large file size (582M) so please be patient with downloads;
  2. Both PC and Mac OS X versions are available.
  3. Run the database using the "guest account"


The purpose of this database is to assist in the identification of Neotropical pollen. This database features more than 1000 species whose pollen has been collected from herbarium sheets (we are indebted to Missouri Botanical Gardens and New York Botanical Gardens for allowing us access to their herbaria). We have paid particular attention to taxa that have been listed in Amazonian and Andean fossil pollen records and to families where we believe there is good scope for a) improving taxonomic resolution and b) actually finding the grain in sedimentary records. For example, we have good coverage of Anacardiaceae, and Euphorbiaceae, but almost nothing in Orchidaceae, Poaceae and Juncaceae.

The database can be quizzed according to family or genus, or as a multiple access key. Use the pull down menus to select the taxa. Some taxa may be represented in the lists but not yet available as specimens and this represents the difference between our holdings of reference material and those yet entered into this database... this is an ongoing project.

Physical attributes of an unknown pollen type can also be entered into a multiple access key. We have consciously reduced the use of jargon to describe pollen types and have tried to rely on visual cues. Fill in as many of the pollen attributes as you can. Unlike dichotomous keys multiple access keys can run on incomplete data, and this one allows more than one option to be entered at each stage. So if you are not sure if the grain is round or subprolate, check both options. You can always run your search and then refine it later by altering your selections. Not all attributes have to be filled in, though more, and more specific attributes will reduce the number of potential matches that are offered. When you have finished entering characters, or the taxon name to be researched, it the “search” button and a series of matches will be shown. By clicking on the blue triangle next to each match you will be offered different views of the grain, and then each of these can be enlarged.

The database is built on a FileMaker 5 platform. FileMaker allows data to be stored either in a runtime or a kiosk format. In the runtime format you do not need to have a copy of FileMaker to use the database – simply download it, download the image gallery, and then run the program file labeled application. In this version the program and its contents cannot be modified. Do not change any of the filenames as this will result in broken linkages and a failure to run the database. If you have a version of FileMaker 5 (or later) you can download the kiosk version that allows you to add your own files to the database. We encourage everyone to participate in the continued development of this database. If you have material to enter and can do so please send us a copy of the additional samples so that we can share them with others. If you are supplying images please provide them at high resolution and 5 megapixel or more images are preferred.

If you are interested in adding data to the database, but do not have FileMaker please ||contact us|| and we will work something out. This beta version of the database may contain some errors, should you find them please ||let us know||. This work was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation (DBI 0096936) and represents many hours of software development by Dr. Chengyu Weng, and pollen photography and descriptions by Andrea Gomez, Alex Correa and Jessica Gilner.

This is shareware and you are welcome to copy it or invite others to download it. We simply request that you cite it in any publications to which it contributed. We also request that you register with us at the website as you download the software. We will send out information when substantial updates are available. We hope you find this useful. We look forward to getting all feedback including errors, omissions, or to receive your contributions.