Huisman, S.N.*, Bush, M.B. & McMichael, C.N.H. (2019) Four centuries of vegetation change in the mid-elevation Andean forests of Ecuador. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany. DOI: 10.1007/s00334-019-00715-8
Hello all! You might have been wondering if I died in the middle of Amazonian nowhere, since I haven’t come back to writing a blog after we left for fieldwork in July. Given we were in an Amazonian region full of venomous snakes that could have been the case, but the good news is I just didn’t get around writing it because I got carried away by the findings of my project! We actually had a very successful field trip – apart from some minor issues like the lake swallowing equipment, sinking waist-high into the mud each step of our 7 hour long ‘trail’ to the lakes, and almost not getting my precious samples through airport security.
Researchers in the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) at the University of Amsterdam have been studying the páramos and Andean ecosystems for over 50 years. These highly diverse ecosystems are currently restricted to mountain-tops (resembling an archipelago of islands in the sky), but in the past dominated large surface areas throughout the Northern Andes. Climate change determined the degree of páramo fragmentation and connectivity in the past, and site-specific results have been integrated into a GIS-environment (visualization) for southern Colombia and the entire Northern Andes by IBED researchers Suzette Flantua and Henry Hooghiemstra.
Watch the ‘Time machine: Ice ages in the Andes’ video and see its presentation at the recent IBED Open Day:
Hi all! My name is Seringe (Dutch for lilac flower), and unsurprisingly I am a biology student. I completed my BSc Biology at the VU University, specializing in ecology. Being fascinated by tropical rainforest since I was a kid, I attended a Tropical Ecology course at the University of Amsterdam (UvA), resulting in a research project with Crystal McMichael from the Palaeoecology & Landscape Ecology group on the late-Holocene fire history of western Amazonia. Besides performing this palaeoecological project, focusing on the aspect of ancient human activity, I followed courses of Latin America Studies to broaden my perspectives on the current socio-environmental complexity and conservation status of the area. This year, I have gotten the amazing opportunity to join Crystal McMichael on a fieldwork expedition to the Ecuadorian Amazon!
Seringe Huisman in the field…
The fieldwork will be part of my Master’s thesis, elaborating on the regional patterns of vegetation composition changes in relation to human disturbance. I will be taking sediment cores from two lakes in the Sangay region of Ecuador, perform charcoal and phytolith analysis to reconstruct fire and vegetation assemblages over the late Holocene and compare the results to previously established records across western Amazonia. While I am currently attending the MSc Biological Sciences Limnology & Oceanography Master’s track at UvA, I could not help but directing my first project into Paleoecology again! My field trip is largely made possible by obtaining €1150 of grants through the Treub-Maatschappij and the Amsterdam University Fund, for which I am very grateful.
I am super excited to be heading to Ecuador soon, and will be back in a month with field stories, mosquito bites and hopefully some suitable sediments!