Terrestrial mollusks, easily identified in Quaternary sediments, represent a reliable tool for quantitative estimates of environmental parameters. Our study, comparing the species distribution with meteorological parameters in Europe, shows that mean temperature of the coldest month and annual thermal magnitude are the most important forcing parameters. This survey allows us to adapt the mutual climatic range (MCR) method to terrestrial mollusk assemblages following two main steps. A set of assemblages from different European regions (northern Norway to southern France) is used to apply the method to present-day mollusks. The reconstructed values describe the latitudinal temperature gradient prevailing over Europe. However, the comparison between the reconstructed and the measured values indicates a shift, similar to that observed, with the same method applied to beetle assemblages. Thus, estimates must be calculated after the reconstruction is tuned with the observations. The results from the modern mollusk assemblages indicate that the MCR method can be safely applied to reconstructing temperatures from terrestrial mollusk assemblages in any worldwide Quaternary sequence. A trial application is made on Late Pleistocene assemblages from Achenheim (Alsace, France). (C) 2002 University of Washington.
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