I am a NERC Research Fellow with a project entitled “Evaluation of forests sensitivity to past climatic changes” (FORSENS), which will be running until September 2015. The project is based on a multi-site, multi-proxy and multi-disciplinary approach to aid the understanding of Neotropical forests’ dynamics since the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM; c. 21,500 years ago).
Prior my arrival to PCRG, I was working at The Botanical Institute of Barcelona (CSIC-ICUB, Palynology and Paleoecology Lab) and the Autonomous University of Barcelona (Tropical and High Mountain Paleoecology). I am a palaeoecologist mainly focused on Late Glacial environmental change in Neotropics, being interested in the climate-vegetation-human relationships. For this purpose, I mainly use pollen, microscopic charcoal and non-pollen palynomorphs. I am also involved in several editor tasks, as regular referee os several Q1 journals, and the editor of the “Humans and Biosphere Commission” Newsletter.
If you are interested in my project please do not hesitate to get in contact.
Yesterday four members of the Palaeoenvironmental Change Research Group (PCRG) visited the Linnean Society of London to attended the annual palynology meeting. The talks were excellent and covered a wide range of issues in palaynology from the configuration of Late Triassic Cassopollis grains (Wolfram Kurschner, University of Oslo), through how pollen and spores are built (Stephen Blackmore, Royal Botanic Garderns, Edinburgh) to understanding global patterns of mass-extinctions with particular focus on the Cretaceous-Paleogene (Vivi Vajda, University of Lund). For further information on the days program click here to visit the meeting web site.
The PCRG contribution to the meeting was made by Hayley Keen who presented the first paper related to her doctoral research to an exteral audience entitled “Pollen counting for diverse tropical ecosystems”. The paper presented:
It is hoped the application of the model to fossil pollen counting will allow more efficient and effective use of palynologists time. The paper was very well recieved despite the audible intake of breath when Hayley recommened that to characterize pollen richness (diversity) in some settings pollen counts in excess of 2000 grains might be required!
The back end of September and October has been very busy as I have tried to catch up with the teaching, administration and research activity which somewhat accumulated whilst on field work!
Major tasks have been:
1) the marking and coordination for level 3 Geological Record of Environmental Change (S369) module examination,
2) getting used to my new role as Post Graduate Tutor looking after all things related to a doctoral students in the Department of Environment, Earth & Ecosystems, and
3) trying to find time to finish off three manuscripts for submission!
Other members of the lab have also been busy:
* Encarni has arrived from Valenti Rull‘s lab at the Botanical Institute in Barcelona as a NERC Fellow and is settling in to life in Milton Keynes, more details soon…
* Lottie is getting into data analysis and writing up of the Lake Bosumtwi pollen an N isotope data,
* Natalie is writing, crunching numbers and waiting for a machine to be fixed…
* Bryan is working on gelling biogeographic data together in GIS
* Hayley has been preparing for talking at the Linnean Society palynology meeting on 1st November “Understanding pollen and spore diversity”, and helping “steal” a microtome for sectoning her wood macrofossils,
* Frazer has started to plot Andean and Amazonian midge distributions against temperature, and
* Alice has been taking photos…
In the midst of all this fun I was sent this great video which brightened my day. I hope you enjoy it as well…
Watson, JS, Fraser, WT & Sephton, MA (2012) Formation of a polyalkyl macromolecule from the hydrolysable component within sporopollenin during heating/pyrolysis experiments with Lycopodium spores. Journal of Analytical & Applied Pyrolysis 95, 138-144. doi:10.1016/j.bbr.2011.03.031
This article demonstrates the stability window of sporopollenin under laboratory simulated diagenetic conditions. We show that sporopollenin is resistant to chemical alteration when subject to low-to-moderate diagenetic conditions, maintaining its original aliphatic:phenolic co-polymer configuration. Under the most extreme of conditions tested here we show that the co-polymer configuration begins to defunctionalise and reploymerise to be replaced in-situ by a predominantly aliphatic polymeric structure, including aliphatic components significantly shorter than originally were present in the starting material. The outcome of this study shows that fossil sporopollenin may still retain its original chemical composition, even after being subjected to diagenesis. Such a finding opens the door for investigating deeper time chemical composition of sporopollenin and environmentally-influenced variations in sporopollenin structure, beyond that currently achieved.
FOUR Research Investment Fellowship
Department of Environment, Earth & Ecosystems
Centre for Earth, Planetary, Space & Astronomical Research
Closing date : 30/11/2012
The four fellowships are advertised in four areas of Earth & Environmental Science; however, applications from exceptional scientists in related fields are also welcome.
One of the key goals of the fieldtrip to Ecuador (August-September) was to sample organic and volcanic (tephra) layers from sedimentary exposures with the aim of obtaining new information about past envrionmental change in the region. Our Ecuadorian collaborator, Dr Patricia Mothes (Instituto Geofisico), had identified four of sites she thought might be useful too us: El Fatima Dique, Mera “2” Dique, El Rosol and Vinillos.
For further descriptions of what we found and field photos read on…
Fraser,WT, Scott, AC, Forbes, AES, Glasspol, IJ, Plotnick, RE, Kenig, F & Lomax, BH (2012) Evolutionary stasis of sporopollenin biochemistry revealed by unaltered Pennsylvanian spores. New Phytologist, doi:10.1111/j.1469-8137.2012.04301.x
Nicole A. S. Mosblech, Mark B. Bush, William D. Gosling, David Hodell, Louise Thomas, Peter van Calsteren, Alexander Correa-Metrio, Bryan G. Valencia, Jason Curtis & Robert van Woesik (2012) North Atlantic forcing of Amazonian precipitation during the last ice age. Nature Geoscience, 5: 817-820.
The second part of our Ecuadorian expedition took in lakes and sections close to the towns of Papallacta and Cosanga. The variation in climatic conditions was marked as we experienced first hand the transition from freezing fog and driving rain to burning sun and heat within a few tens of kilometers as we travelled from >4000 m down to around 1000 m elevation.
Tomorrow we will attempt to recover short cores from two more lakes. Then our final few days here in Ecuador will be spent visiting partners and packing up.