Spores and pollen are produced during the life cycle of plants - spores by the lowly bryophytes and ferns, and pollen by the 'higher plants', the conifers and angiosperms. Both types of grain possess a wall that is remarkably resistant to microbial attack and to the effects of temperature and pressure after burial. Produced in vast numbers, these microscopic grains can travel widely and rapidly in wind or water, eventually settling on the bottom of ponds, lakes, rivers and oceans. Such features make them valuable to bio-stratigraphy, particularly when correlating continental and nearshore marine deposits of Silurian or younger age. Where the ecology of the parent plant is known, spores and pollen can be used for palaeoecological and palaeoenvironmental studies.
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