The fifth Mapping Ancient African project took place on Monday 11 April 2022 and focused on the African Pollen Database and past vegetation change in Africa.
The seminar was delivered by Sarah Ivory (Penn State University), Rahab Kinyanjui (National Museums of Kenya), and Lynne Quick (Nelson Mandela University). The seminar covers the principles behind and the working of the African Pollen Database (why make data openly available?) and the latest advances in eastern and southern Africa.
For more about the African Pollen Database check out:
The festive period blog post related to the recent volume of Palaeoecology of Africa (published entirely open access online) picks out the four Perspective articles. We included Perspective articles within the volume to place the volume in context and showcase some topical ideas, with the overall objective of stimulating further debate on past environmental change in Africa.
The opening two papers of the volume are both Perspectives. Louis Scott opens the volume with a short history of the Palaeoecology of Africa series. He sketches out the rich and varied history of the publication which, commenced in 1966 as a collection of eight reports (van Zinerden Bakker 1966), includes seven conference proceedings, and has been edited at various times by Eduard Meine van Zinerden Bakker, Joey Coetzee, Klaus Heine and currently Jürgen Runge. The second article, Lézine et al., tracks the rise and revival of the “African Pollen Database” (APD) from its formation in 1996, through to its decline in 2007, and up to its re-initiation in 2019 from which this volume of PoA has sprung. Personally, I think the huge enthusiasm shown to participate in this volume and to contributing to collaborative initiatives like the APD, demonstrate the strength of the field and can only bode well for future research.
The other two Perspective papers showcase nicely some of the motivation behind the enthusiasm for palaeoecological research. Lynne Quick focuses in on the hyper-diverse Cape Floristic Region of southern Africa and what records of past vegetation and climate change can tell us to reveal these origins and assist in the conservation and management of this ecological wonder today. The final perspective, by Lindsey Gillson, rounds off the volume by thinking more broadly about how palaeoecological research can be utilised in the development of conservation policy in Africa. She focuses particularly on how these records can provide insights into drivers of change in the past (climate, fire, and herbivory) and how this can then be used to guide conservation and enrich our understanding how the landscape we see in Africa today came to be.
To find out more download all the articles for free:
I am delighted to announce the publication of the new volume in the Palaeoecology of Africa series. I had the privilege to guest edit this with Anne-Marie Lézine and Louis Scott. The final version is now available OPEN ACCESS online.
Gosling, W.D., Lézine, A.-M. & Scott, L., eds. (2021) Quaternary Vegetation Dynamics: The African Pollen Database. Series editor: Runge, J. Palaeoecology of Africa: Volume 35. CRC Press. ISBN: 9780367755089 DOI: 10.1201/9781003162766
I am pleased to announce that the new, open access, volume of Palaeoecology of Africa (PoA) should be available to download in October. The “Quaternary Vegetation Dynamics” volume comprises 24 chapters, produced by more than 70 authors, and contains extensive review papers, personal perspectives on hot topics, as well as new research and data papers.
To find out more on the volume visit the publishers web site: PoA Vol. 35
Over the next few months I aim to blog about the various specific chapters to showcase some of the key findings. I hope that this book will provide a useful resource to all researchers working on past climate, environmental and vegetation change in Africa, and will provide a springboard for the start of the new “Mapping Ancient Africa” project that will kick off in October.
I am delighted to announce that a new volume of the classic book series “Palaeoecology of Africa“ is now under development. This new volume (hopefully number 35) will focus on “Quaternary Vegetation Dynamics” and build on recent initiatives to develop the “African Pollen Database”. The volume will be guest edited by Anne-Marie Lezine (LOCEAN), Louis Scott (University of the Free State) and myself, along side the series editor Jürgen Runge (Johann Wolfgang Goethe University). If you are interested to contribute please get in touch.
The Quaternary Vegetation Dynamics volume of the long-running Palaeoecology of Africa series will showcase palynological work from across the African continent and surrounding regions, and place this in the context of past climatic, human and evolutionary change. We are keen to use this opportunity to catalyse the archiving of previously published and new datasets into the open access online African Pollen Database. The volume will be published entirely open access online and will contain four types of manuscript: (i) Research papers, (ii) Data papers, (iii) Review papers, and (iv) Perspectives.
Githumbi, E., Marchant, R. & Olago, D. (2020) Using the Past to Inform a Sustainable Future: Palaeoecological Insights from East Africa. Africa and the Sustainable Development Goals (ed. by M. Ramutsindela & D. Mickler), pp. 187-195. Springer Nature, Switzerland AG. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-14857-7_18
An 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:
Pollen data recorded in Neotoma for Africa on 24 January 2020. Hopefully after the data steward training event we will have a few more dots on the map, and the potential for many more.
We are delighted to be able to host sixteen researchers of many nationalities conducting research in many different countries. The aim of the training event is to provide researchers with the skills to manage Neotoma and strengthen the African pollen research community. I am excited to be involved, I am confidence that much new research will be brought together, and I hope that we can get good plans in place for further steps and growth of this network.
REFERENCES Vincens, A., Lézine, A.-., Buchet, G., Lewden, D. & Le Thomas, A. (2007) African pollen database inventory of tree and shrub pollen types. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 145, 135-141. DOI: 10.1016/j.revpalbo.2006.09.004
Williams, J.W., Grimm, E.C., Blois, J.L., Charles, D.F., Davis, E.B., Goring, S.J., Graham, R.W., Smith, A.J., Anderson, M., Arroyo-Cabrales, J., Ashworth, A.C., Betancourt, J.L., Bills, B.W., Booth, R.K., Buckland, P.I., Curry, B.B., Giesecke, T., Jackson, S.T., Latorre, C., Nichols, J., Purdum, T., Roth, R.E., Stryker, M. & Takahara, H. (2018) The Neotoma Paleoecology Database, a multiproxy, international, community-curated data resource. Quaternary Research 89, 156-177. DOI: 10.1017/qua.2017.105