Keep on pollen sniffing

May 5, 2020
WDG

By Cas Verbeek (University of Amsterdam)

Luckily, in spite of these trying times, we are allowed to continue our research in Amsterdam and on the Veluwe to determine the effects of air pollution on airborne pollen grains. Unfortunately for us (but generally perhaps one of the few silver linings of this situation), the COVID-19 lockdown has largely eliminated our main variable of interest; air pollution.

With traffic in the city at a minimum, any chemical differences might not be as pronounced between the city and rural areas. However, this may actually provide us with a unique opportunity to get a baseline of the pollen chemistry in Amsterdam with relatively little pollution. This baseline may also be of interest to projects working on urban air quality and greenifying urban spaces, such as the projects in the Amsterdam Knowledge Mile Park, which is included amongst our sampling locations.

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For more about our project on pollen and pollution in the Netherlands see other posts:

Pollen in the Netherlands

April 21, 2020
WDG

By Letty de Weger (Leiden University Medical Centrum)

In the coming weeks lots of pollen can be collected. Due to the nice, sunny weather birch trees are in full flower and release their pollen into the air.  This is of course not so good news for the individuals sensitized to the pollen of birch because they can suffer from hay fever symptoms.

Next to birch also the ash trees are flowering. The black buds of the ash branches have bursted, releasing the purple anthers (first figure). Among those anthers you can see some that release their yellow pollen  (second figure).

For more about our project on pollen and pollution in the Netherlands see other posts:

African Pollen Database – Data stewards

January 29, 2020
WDG

Neotoma PackratAn African Pollen Database data steward training event was held at the Institute for Biodiversity & Ecosystem Dyanmics (University of Amsterdam, 27-29 January 2020) where training in the use of the Neotoma database was provided by Eric Grimm. The participants are now enabled curate and archive data within Neotoma. If you have a palaeoecological data set that you would like to contribute to Neotoma, or if you would like training as well, these people can now help you. Contact details below:

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“Can you go back?” by Mark Bush – Photo gallery

September 27, 2019
WDG

Mark Bush

Mark Bush

The three part guest blog posts “Can you go back?” by Prof. Mark Bush (Florida Institute of Technology) contained images collated by Mark over his career, here they are all together for you to enjoy.

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To read the story click on the links:

A Study in Green

July 5, 2019
WDG

By Rachel Sales (Florida Institute of Technology, USA)

My bike is angry at me.

I’m rattling down an unpaved road in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The brakes screech at every turn, and the chain is close to falling off. Unsurprisingly, the rain is pouring, turning the road into a maze of puddles and mud. The road follows the Anzu River, and I can hear its roar off to my right.

I’m forcing a perfectly innocent bike to brave the Amazon because this road leads to the Herbario Amazónico of the Universidad Estatal Amazónica (ECUAMZ). ECUAMZ (an acronym for “Ecuador Amazon”) is the only herbarium in the Amazon, and contains a repository of plant specimens for preservation and help with field identifications. It was established by Dr. David Neill, a specialist in the Fabaceae (legume) family and world-renowned expert in tropical botany, and Dr. Mercedes Asanza, the coordinator of the herbarium. They have agreed to mentor me over the summer and teach me about tropical plants. The Herbario Amazónico, which contains over 17,000 vascular plant species, is the perfect place to learn.

The view from the top of the tower at Jatun Sacha.

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Palynologische Kring: Fire meeting

July 4, 2019
WDG

Date: Thursday 4th July 2019

Location: Institute for Biodiversity & Ecosystem Dynamics (University of Amsterdam)

Talks

  • 13:00   Algemene leden vergadering/Annual meeting
  • 14:00   Objective quantification of microscopic charred particles in pollen slide Frederike Verbruggen (BIAX)
  • 14.30   On the interpretation of ancient charcoal Crystal McMichael (University of Amsterdam)
  • 15:00   Introduction to laboratory activities William Gosling (University of Amsterdam)

Laboratory 

  • Chemical analysis of charcoal fragments Marco Raczka and William Gosling (both University of Amsterdam)
  • Charcoal in archaeology Erica van Hees (Leiden University)

 

Cloudy with a chance of adventure

April 8, 2019
WDG

Rachel Sales, Bryan Valencia, and Majoi de Novaes Nascimento coring a different lake. In this picture, we have just pulled a core of mud up from the bottom of the lake. Photo credit: Seringe Huisman

Rachel Sales, Bryan Valencia, and Majoi de Novaes Nascimento coring a different lake. In this picture, we have just pulled a core of mud up from the bottom of the lake. Photo credit: Seringe Huisman

Cloudy with a chance of adventure
By Rachel Sales (PhD researcher at the Institute for Global Ecology, Florida Institute of Technology)

I am sitting on the shore of Lago Condorcillo in Southern Ecuador, after a long day of travel, trying to control my shivering. At roughly 10,500 ft. above sea level, the lake is very cold, with wind that howls over the barren hills dotted with giant boulders. The lake is also almost always blanketed by thick fog and pelted by driving rain. When you’re surrounded by the thick fog punctuated by lightning bolts, it’s easy to believe that some lost civilization lurks just out of sight. Tonight we are experiencing lightning storms, which is adding to the feeling that some angry, ancient life form must live at Lago Condorcillo.

Tomorrow, I will be out in the cold and rain, balancing on an inflatable boat and fighting frostbite. Mark Bush, who is my Ph.D. advisor, Courtney Shadik, who is my lab partner and tent buddy, and I will be collecting cores of mud from the bottom of Condorcillo. We will create our rig for coring by tying two inflatable boats together, and placing a wooden platform between them. Mark, Courtney, and I will then collect our mud cores from this platform.

As I’m contemplating the hazards of camping in a lightning storm, Mark says, “Tell me everything that went wrong today.” Courtney pulls a sleeping bag closer to her. I begin to describe how Google Maps can’t seem to understand distance in the Andes, and so traveling to Lago Condorcillo took much longer than we anticipated. Courtney laughs beside me and adds, “We don’t have any matches to start a fire.” Despite our troubles, I am grinning from ear to ear, no doubt spoiling the grim mood Mark is attempting to cultivate and Lago Condorcillo is doing its best to enforce.

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How can we conserve species in the face of anthropogenic climate change?

March 15, 2019
cmcmicha

 

Participants of the meeting

Participants of the meeting

The International Conference on Past Plant Diversity, Climate Change, and Mountain Conservation was aimed to address this question, with a focus on mountain (montane) species. As climate warms, there are several outcomes for montane species. They can migrate upslope, go extinct, or adapt to the warming conditions. Given these options, we got together to discuss our most recent datasets, and the best strategies for the conservation of montane species. Effective conservation strategies are crucial for the survival of many rare and endemic montane species, because climate is indeed warming, regardless of what Trump or Fox News tries to tell people.

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