Palaeoecological data needs to be applicable to ecology. Models adjusting quantities of key pollen types are now routinely used in palaeoecology. Treeline shifts and regional vegetation change can be established and linked with climate and land-use change models to predict future trajectories. At the local-scale, in high-nature-value cultural landscapes, a fundamental mainstay of ecological change data are vegetation cover and biodiversity surveys. These surveys can be detailed, using vegetation data from a suitable number of quadrats to develop site categorisations such as the National Vegetation classification and the European Habitat descriptors in the UK and Europe. Ecological data and palaeoecological data at the local scale need to be tested further to assess the ability to link the two datasets at this scale. Since much of the vegetation recorded in biodiverse sites produces pollen or spores sporadically, or sparsely, how far can we go with links between pollen survey and ecological survey? This paper presents research that has been attempting to discover the analytical limits of ecological palaeoecology. Using rare type pollen taxa surveys in cultural upland landscapes a modern pollen-vegetation analysis provides binary and semi-quantitative data to link pollen presence and abundance to vegetation presence and abundance at different spatial scales. In addition, the density of grazing animals is tested by relating abundance of animals to coprophilous fungal spore data in the samples. A range of differing source areas for rare-type pollen are evident, some challenges to previous assumptions on source area for herbaceous types are evident. Although a range of pollen types are clearly stochastic in distribution through the landscape and therefore into palaeoenvironmental sediments, there are also some useful patterns that emerge for some taxa, which allow a more rigorous basis for future palaeoecological interpretation and ecological linkages and these will be discussed.