Encarni Montoya

Hi all,

I am Encarni Montoya and I have recently joined the Palaeoenvironmental Change Research Group.

Field work in Ecuador 2012
Field work in Ecuador 2012

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).

I presented details in a poster at the recent INTIMATE/CELL-50k Join Workshop this 12-15th November at Budapest, Hungary. Click here to view my poster and find out more details about the project.

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.

Palae-Mo (day 16)

Frazer proves that the Mo does not stop work in the palaeo lab..

Enjoying the Palaeo-Mo’s? If so for more picture and and the opportunity to donate visit the OU Roc Soc team Movember pages.

For more Open University Mos’

Palae-MO (day 9)

It is Movember (raising awaerness of mens health issues) and Frazer and Will have joined the OU Roc Soc team in growing their Mo’s:

Please support the Palae-Mo by donating at: http://uk.movember.com/team/725605

Check back soon for more Mo updates…

Understanding pollen and spore diversity

Linnean Society Palynology Specialist Group meeting
Linnean Society of London
Burlington House
1st November 2012

Linnean Society (November 2012)
PCRG members at the Linnean Society 1st November
Left-Right: Hayley Keen, William Gosling, Alice Kennedy and Encarni Montoya

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:  

  1. A statistical model (developed by co-author Felix Hanke) which simulaltes pollen counting in order to estimate the size of pollen count required to develop a robust ecological insight from the fossil pollen record, and
  2. compared model predictions with empirical data from a diverse tropopical ecosystem (Mera, Ecuador) to assess the reliablity of the model.

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!

PCRG October

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

Imagae of a Toarcian foraminifera taken by Alice Kennedy facilitated by the new cable which allows our microscope camera to talk to a computer – hooray!

* 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…

Diagenetic stability of sporopollenin opens door to study deep-time palynomorphs

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.

Research Fellowships at The Open University

FOUR Research Investment Fellowship
Department of Environment, Earth & Ecosystems
Centre for Earth, Planetary, Space & Astronomical Research
Closing date : 30/11/2012

Asteraceae in Andes

The four fellowships are advertised in four areas of Earth & Environmental Science; however, applications from exceptional scientists in related fields are also welcome.

For further details visit:
Earth Science
* Integrated Earth System Modelling
* Terrestrial Ecosystem Science
* Ecosystem Services

If you are interested in any of these posts and want to discuss links to the Palaeoenvironmental Change Research Group please contact William Gosling.