Significance testing testate amoeba water table reconstructions

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

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    18 Citations (Scopus)


    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.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)131-135
    Number of pages5
    JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2016


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

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Global and Planetary Change
    • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
    • Archaeology
    • Archaeology
    • Geology

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  • Cite this

    Payne, R. J., Babeshko, K. V., van Bellen, S., Blackford, J. J., Booth, R. K., Charman, D. J., Ellershaw, M. R., Gilbert, D., Hughes, P. D. M., Jassey, V. E. J., Lamentowicz, Ł., Lamentowicz, M., Malysheva, E. A., Mauquoy, D., Mazei, Y., Mitchell, E. A. D., Swindles, G. T., Tsyganov, A. N., Turner, T. E., & Telford, R. J. (2016). Significance testing testate amoeba water table reconstructions. Quaternary Science Reviews, 138, 131-135.