Rubicon project to link fossil pollen with plant traits

July 20, 2017

Dear Ecology of the past blog readers,

This time you are reading a message from a non-expert in paleoecology. My name is Masha and I will spend the next two years on a very exciting postdoctoral fellowship funded by NWO (Dutch National Science Foundation) under their Rubicon scheme in close collaboration with William Gosling (University of Amsterdam).

My background is in (contemporary) tropical forest composition and dynamics, and my PhD research focused on “Biodiversity and the functioning of tropical forests” (with Will as one of the opponents; to see defense click here). In one of my PhD chapters, we found that old-growth tropical forests are currently changing in species and trait composition (van der Sande et al. 2016). Evaluating how the trait composition (i.e. the average trait value of a community of trees) changes over time allowed us to understand which drivers are underlying these changes. Will and I realized that we could perhaps also apply this approach to much longer temporal dynamics data: fossil pollen data-sets from the Amazon.

During this research, I will be hosted by Mark Bush in his “Paleoecology lab” at Florida Institute of Technology (US), and work in close collaboration with paleoecologists and tropical forest ecologists from the Netherlands, UK, US and Brazil. I am excited to learn more about “past” ecology and look forward to interact with you!


Masha @Masha_vdSande

van der Sande, M.T., Arets, E.J.M.M., Peña-Claros, M., Luciana de Avila, A., Roopsind, A., Mazzei, L., Ascarrunz, N., Finegan, B., Alarcón, A., Cáceres-Siani, Y., Licona, J.C., Ruschel, A., Toledo, M. & Poorter, L. (2016) Old-growth Neotropical forests are shifting in species and trait composition. Ecological Monographs, 86, 228–243. DOI: 10.1890/15-1815.1

One Comment

  1. Very nice, Masha!

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