January seems to have flown past and has been another active month. With group members variously involved in:
Encarni and Frazer headed off to the International Biogeography Symposium in Miami (9-13 January) and presented posters entitled “(Paleo-) Biogeography of Polylepis spp. woodlands in the Ecuadorian Andes (South America)” and “Quantifying Quaternary climate change in the Tropical Andes using non- biting midges (Chironomidae)” respectively. They then headed off to Ecuador to conduct the major field work for Encarni’s NERC Fellowship. Despite some problems with coring equipment they have already raised a c. 11 m core from Laguna Pindo in lowland Ecuador (near Mera). We are all very excited that this could turn out to be an important new record from the lowlands of western Amazonia.
Closer to home Hayley and I made it across to Cambridge to: 1) return the boats to the Geography department which we had borrowed for our visit to Diss Mere in November, and 2) attend the Quaternary Discussion Group (QDG) talk by Prof. Graeame Barker (University of Cambridge, Archaeology). The QDG meeting was excellent. Prof. Barker gave a interesting insight into historical and new work from Niah Cave in Borneo and placed it within the wider context of hominid dispersal out of Africa. The meeting also provided an opportunity to catch up with academic friend including Chronis Tzedakis and Richard Preece as well as my masters supervisor Charles Turner.
When in Milton Keynes we have been busy with laboratory research activity. Hayley has put together a protocol for thin sectioning wood for the purpose of anatomical identification. This will allow us to prepare the wood macrofossil samples collected from Ecuador in 2012 with a view to gaining taxonomic identifications; for examples see inside wood. It is extremely useful for environmental reconstructions to use fossil pollen and wood together as it allows both the regional and local vegetation to be reconstructed (for example see Cardenas et al. 2011).
On the teaching front preparations for the 2013 version of the “Geological Record of Environmental Change” went through the final stages. The course is now live to students who will hopefully enjoy what we have prepared… good luck all.
Finally, and possibly most excitingly, the proposal lead by Emma Sayer to the British Ecological Society to promote ecological science at music festivals has got the go ahead. Our plan is now to run interactive ecological science events at four UK music festivals. First to confirm us on their line up (along with The Human League) as Wychwood. We hope to be able to confirm further dates soon, follow the “Sex and Bugs and Rock’n’Roll” blog for latest updates. If you are excited by this check out our videos online and visit the blog to find out how you could also take part in this event!