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.
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:
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
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!
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.