PCRG March

April 2, 2012
WDG

In March the Palaeoenvironmental Change Research Group (PCRG) have been involved with data collection in the labs, training, fieldwork planning (and un-planning) and outreach.

Two notable pieces of pollen data collection have made significant progress this month: 1) Hayley has been working at collecting data to establish what is a suitable pollen count size to assess vegetation change within her highly diverse Amazonina samples, and 2) Lottieis on to about the last dozen samples to complete the overview of 500,000 years of pollen from Lake Bosumtwi (Ghana); an amazing pollen record and an excellent research effort which will be the cornerstone of her PhD thesis! More soon on both these pollen stories as they unfold… In addition, I am pleased to report that the list of taxa within our pollen reference collection has finally been fully digitized – Thank you Jason; details of the >3000 taxa collection will soon be available on the lab web pages.

Gigantic Prasinophytes (>100 microns)

Also in the lab: Alice Kennedy, working on ‘deep time’ palaeoecology, has identified a bloom in the foraminifera Reinholdella macfadyeni and gigantic Prasinophytes associate with marine annoxia in sediments from Yorkshire. Will be interesting to find out what these all mean at the next lab meeting!

At the beginning of March four of us (Frazer, Hayley, Lottie and myself) attended a First Aid for field work training course run by Mediact. The course was excellent with plenty of useful information and the opportunity to practice techniques such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (on dummies) and bandaging (on each other). Unfortunately we will have to wait to practice any of the techniques in the field as our planned trip to Ecuador looks likely to be postponed due to injury to one of our members! Get well soon Frazer šŸ™‚ On the up side this should allow me to catch up with the piles of papers I should be writing.

The month finished with an exciting outreach event. I was asked to present our research to the Oxford Geology Group. The event was hosted at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. It was an excellent day of talks and it was fun to discuss our research with interested people.

PCRG February

March 5, 2012
WDG

Laboratory activity has continued through February with progress on pollen counts (Lottie and Hayley) and chironomid (non-biting midges)Ā picking (Frazer). Hayley also managed to escape the microscope lab for a short period: 1) to commence work on selecting samples from tephras for Ar-Ar dating, and 2) to counduct loss-on-ignition analysis of organic samples to identify the constituents of her sediment. I did not make it on to the microscope šŸ˜¦

I was however very pleased to welcome Macarena Cardenas back into the lab as a visiting Research Fellow. Maca will be working on the pollenĀ reference collection, assisting with PhD student analysis and continuing to write papers during her renewed association.

Frazer, Hayley and I have also begun planning for field work in Ecuador for April-May. We will be working in collaboration with the Instituto Geophisico in Quito and the plan is to visit the Mera site which Hayley is working on, and to collect lake surface samples for Frazer to examine the midges. In preparation for the collection of midges samples expert, and project co-supervisor,Ā Steve BrooksĀ (Natural History Museum) visited for a day to brief us on how best to do this.

Away from research I have been working on writing exam questions and tutor marked assignments for the level 3 module The geological record of environmental change (S369, to those familliar with OU codes!). Hopefully, I have managed to set some interesting and challenging tasks for our students. . .

Relay team palaeo

March 1, 2012
WDG

The Open University Les Irvine Memorial Relay 2012 "Team Palaeo"The 21st The Open University Les Irvine Memorial Relay was held yesterday (29/02/2012) and four teams from the Environment, Earth & Ecosystems department were entered amoung the 40 which took part. Run over four legs and covering a 1.1 mile course at Walton Hall it was anotherĀ fun event.

For the third year running a team of palaeoecologists took part. This year “Team Palaeo” comprised Hayley Keen, myself, Frazer Bird and Lottie Miller (left to right on photo) and we were the fastest finishing team from the department!

British Ecological meetings

February 23, 2012
WDG

BES careers 2012

I am currently a member of the British Ecological Society (BES) council. The BES is a ‘learned society’ based at Charles Darwin House in London which publishes four academic journals, has thousands of members and is open to anyone with an interest in ecology. As part of my role on council I serve on two committees which run different aspects of the societies activity: 1) meetings, and 2) education, training and careers. This month we have had meetings of both these committees. Two highlights of the societies activity related to these committees were:

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PCRG January

January 27, 2012
WDG

January 2012 has been a busy one for the Palaeoenvironmental Change Research Group members we have been getting out and about (attending three research meetings), there has been activity in the labs (pollen, chironomids and geochemical analysis all being undertaken) and developments with the publication of our research (book chapter published and two papers moved along in the publication process).

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Environmental change in the humid tropics and monsoonal regions

January 27, 2012
WDG

JUST PUBLISHED
Bush, M.B. & Gosling, W.D. (2012) Environmental change in the humid tropics and monsoonal regions. TheĀ SAGE handbook of environmental change: Volume 2. Human Impacts and Response (ed. by J.A. Matthews, P.J. Bartlein, K.R. Briffa, A.G. Dawson, A. De Vernal, T. Denham, S.C. Fritz and F. Oldfield), pp. 113-140. SAGE, London. ISBN: 978-0-857-02360-5

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Open University Geological Society

January 23, 2012
WDG

Last Saturday (21st January) the West Midlands Open University Geological Society held a day of lectures at the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Birmingham. I was one of five invited speakers who covered a wide range of topics related to geology: Snowball Earth (McMillan, Birmingham), earthquakes in Chile (Ryder, Liverpool), salt mines of Cheshire (Carlon), Icelandic eruptions (Watson, Bristol) and myself on glacial-interglacial cycles in the tropics. The Dome lecture theater was full and it was exciting to be able toĀ engage OUGS members directly with reaserch being conducted in the Palaeoenvironmental Change Research Group at The OU.Ā Therefore, many thanks to Ron Whitfield for inviting me and organising the event. I will certainly be recommending attending and speaking at these events to my departmental collegues.

Visit the OUGS website to find out about other activities and events like this.

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