JOB: PhD candidate in Palaeoecology & Landscape Ecology

July 28, 2015

UvAInstitute for Biodiversity & Ecosystem Dynamics
Faculty of Science

University of Amsterdam

Characterization of Neotropical ecosystems by their modern pollen spectra and organic chemical composition

  • Develop skills in pollen identification, pollen chemical characterization, and the analysis of organic biomarkers.
  • Examine ecological variation across an altitudinal gradient of nearly 4000 meters on the tropical western Andean flank.
  • Improve understanding of how ecosystems function in a biodiversity hotspot, and how they might be identified in the fossil record.

Mashpi (25)The considerable biodiversity of Neotropical ecosystems is under pressure from projected climate change and human activity. Modern ecosystems can be characterized by their pollen rain and organic chemistry, which can in turn provide information about ecosystem health and functioning. However, little is known about how pollen assemblage and chemical composition (of pollen and plants) vary along environmental gradients. Altitudinal transects provide an opportunity to study a range of environments and ecosystems with a relatively small geographic area. By improving our understanding of modern ecosystems we can improve our interpretation of fossil records, and consequently better understand how modern ecosystems came into being.

The main objectives of this PhD project are to:

  1. Generate the first modern pollen assemblage and chemical data set for the Neotropics,
  2. Characterize the landscape-scale variation in pollen assemblage and chemistry composition, and
  3. Identify the key environmental drivers that determines pollen assemblage and chemistry composition variation.

Publication date: 27 July 2015
Closing date: 18 September 2015
Level of education: University (Masters)
Hours: 38 hours per week
Salary indication: €2,125 to €2,717 gross per month
Vacancy number: 15-286

Applications should be emailed to, with in the subject line the position you are applying for and vacancy number (15-286). Please make sure all your material is attached in only one pdf. Applications should include a detailed CV including educational experiences, a list of research projects and/or publications, a letter of motivation, relevant work experience, and the names and contact addresses of two academic referees from whom a reference for the candidate can be obtained.

For more details, including information on how to apply, click here (UvA), or here (via academic transfer).

For further information visit the Palaeoecology & Landscape Ecology web pages, or contact Dr. William D. Gosling  directly.

Introducing Corine Driessen

July 7, 2015

DriessenCHi Everyone,

It’s very nice to be invited to write something for this blog, let me introduce myself a little bit.

I am a MSc Earth Sciences student at the University of Amsterdam. Currently I am working on my master thesis at Naturalis Biodiversity Center, under supervision of Niels Raes, Willem Renema and William Gosling. We are looking at species migration between Australia and Asia during the Miocene, and we compare it to migration between N and S America at the dawn of the Great American Biotic Interchange. To do so I’m analysing data on fossil occurrences in Australia and Southeast Asia. Hopefully this research will lead to interesting new insights.

Before starting my MSc Earth Sciences I did a bachelor in Biology at Leiden University. I decided to do a master’s in Earth Sciences because it offered a broader perspective of the natural world and its processes.

I like analysing and sorting out data like I’m currently doing for my thesis with fossil occurrence data. It also played a major role in my internship at TNO – Caribbean Branche Office, where I was involved in starting a database containing information on Aruba’s subsurface. During my internship I also experienced the “Green Aruba” conference and was involved in organising a geological excursion for some of the attendants. I am very interested in environmental issues and solutions, such as the transition to renewable energy. New technologies spike my interest a lot and I like being aware of innovations in a whole lot of fields.

Hopefully I will have my thesis ready within a couple of months, and can give an update about some of the findings.


Pollen database of Early-Miocene Amazonian palynological diversity

June 29, 2015

By Milan Teunissen van Manen
MSc Biological Sciences, University of Amsterdam.

As part of my MSc research project on Early-Miocene paleodiversity shifts due to marine incursions in the Amazon basin, I recorded and photographed large numbers of palynomorphs. The database consists of a set of images (Teunissen van Manen, 2015a) that I took with my smartphone (bundled in pdfs for sharing purposes) and an Excel overview file (Teunissen van Manen, 2015b) where each of the entries is described. Some of the entries are well documented taxa (C’mon, who hasn’t heard of Zonocostites ramonae and Mauritidites franciscoi before?) while others are “types” that are not formally described – mainly because in Amazonian sediments new, unseen palynomorphs pop up all the time. Indeed, this was the reason why I started the database in the first place: I was merely trying to keep up with the vast diversity that I encountered during sample counting.

Seeing the added value of having a digital record of the palynological diversity from the Amazon basin samples, my project supervisor, Carina Hoorn (UvA), encouraged me to publish the database online so others could also access it. I’d like to invite you to take a look. I hope it can maybe help you with identifying taxa or, who knows, linking taxa across the Amazon basin… if you do, please let me know!

…or maybe it will have you rejoice in the huge diversity and alien beauty of pollen morphology, just as it rejoiced me as I was working through my (seemingly endless) samples.


Teunissen van Manen, Milan (2015a): Miocene Amazonian Palynological Diversity – Image files. figshare.

Teunissen van Manen, Milan (2015b): Miocene Amazonian palynological diversity database – Entries record. figshare.

This project was conducted with Research Group of Palaeoecology & Landscape Ecology, part of the Institute for Biodiversity & Ecosystem Dynamics.

XPERT Henry Hooghiemstra

June 22, 2015


Henry-Hooghiemstra-2We are delighted to be able to confirm the University of Amsterdam‘s leading expert in tropical palaeoecology, Emeritus Professor Henry Hooghiemstra, will be giving the first of our XPERT lectures; on Monday 17 August at Science Park 904. The lecture will be open to XPERT participants and other interested people. If you are not a member of XPERT but wish to attend please contact William Gosling to ensure that we have space for you.

TITLE: Exploration of dynamic tropical ecosystems in space and time

Abstract below…

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