Open access: Montoya E, Matthews-Bird F, Brooks SJ, Gosling WD. 2021. Forests protect aquatic communities from detrimental impact by volcanic deposits in the tropical Andes (Ecuador). Regional Environmental Change 21(2): article 53. DOI: 10.1007/s10113-021-01783-1
Mark Bush and I are proud to announce that a tribute to Prof. Daniel Livingston and Prof. Paul Colinvaux has recently been published in Quaternary Research. Dan and Paul were both pioneers of tropical pal(a)eoecology and both died in the spring of 2016 . To mark their passing Mark and I have guest edited ten new papers on palaeoecology drawn from researchers, and regions, of the tropics in which Dan and Paul worked (Bush & Gosling, 2018). We would like to thank Quaternary Research Senior Editor Derek Booth for giving us this opportunity and assisting greatly in the process of compiling the manuscripts. We would also like to thank all to contributing authors for their hard work and dedication to the project. We hope that you will enjoy reading the manuscripts and find them a fitting tribute to the life and work of these two great researchers.
Clement, C.R., Denevan, W.M., Heckenberger, M.J., Junqueira, A.B., Neves, E.G., Teixeira, W.G. & Woods, W.I. (2015) The domestication of Amazonia before European conquest. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 282. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.0813
Oliver, T.H., Heard, M.S., Isaac, N.J.B., Roy, D.B., Procter, D., Eigenbrod, F., Freckleton, R., Hector, A., Orme, C.D., Petchey, O.L., Proenca, V., Raffaelli, D., Suttle, K.B., Mace, G.M., Martin-Lopez, B., Woodcock, B.A. & Bullock, J.M. Biodiversity and Resilience of Ecosystem Functions. Trends in Ecology & Evolution. DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2015.08.009
Watkins, C. (2015) Oliver Rackham OBE FBA 1939–2015. Landscape History 36, 5-8. DOI: 10.1080/01433768.2015.1044280
COMMENT: One of the books that inspired me to enter this field of research was Rackham’s Trees and woodlands in the British landscape; published the year I was born…
Bush, M.B. (1995) Neotropical plant reproductive strategies and fossil pollen representation. American Naturalist 145, 594-609. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2462970
Cárdenas, M.L., Gosling, W.D., Sherlock, S.C., Poole, I., Pennington, R.T. & Mothes, P. (2011) The response of vegetation on the Andean flank in western Amazonia to Pleistocene climate change. Science 331, 1055-1058. DOI: 10.1126/science.1197947
Logan, A.L. & D’Andrea, A.C. (2012) Oil palm, arboriculture, and changing subsistence practices during Kintampo times (3600–3200 BP, Ghana). Quaternary International 249, 63-71. DOI: 10.1016/j.quaint.2010.12.004
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.
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:
Generate the first modern pollen assemblage and chemical data set for the Neotropics,
Characterize the landscape-scale variation in pollen assemblage and chemistry composition, and
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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).
Cárdenas, M.L. (2011) The response of western Amazonian vegetation to fire and climate change: A palaeoecological study. PhD Thesis, Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences, The Open University.
MLC Ecuador (2008)
Amazonia is one of the most biodiverse regions of the world, a reputation largely earned by the floristic richness of western Amazonia, namely the Ecuadorian Andes. In particular, montane cloud forest in western Amazonia on the Andean flank has been identified as of high ecological value because of its large floristic diversity. Unfortunately, montane forests’ biodiversity have suffered a strong detrimental impact due the ongoing human activity and climate change. Consequently, understanding the dynamics of montane forest and identifying the main factors that control them is fundamental to manage and protect these ecosystems.
This thesis focuses upon paleoecological data obtained from organic sediments from Erazo (Ecuador), located today within the lower montane forest. Examination of modern vegetation and pollen rain close to Erazo revealed florist variation at the kilometer scale related to human disturbance. Modern data provided the basis for interpreting the fossil record. Radiometric dating of interbedded volcanic ash indicates the sediments were deposited c. 324,000-193,000 years ago, well before the arrival of humans in America. Fossil pollen and wood preserved within organic sediments suggest that the composition of the forest was different to modern and changed significantly during the middle Pleistocene. Taxonomic changes in the fossil pollen assemblage, coupled with the presence of Podocarpus spp. macrofossils within the sediments, indicate that temperatures reached c. 5oC cooler than modern. Given the timing and magnitude of vegetation cha
nge observed in the Erazo sediments it therefore seems likely that the variations were instigated by global temperature changes associated with Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 9 and the MIS 7-6 transition from interglacial-glacial conditions.
The palaeoecological data from Erazo indicate that far from being a relatively stable ‘museums’ tropical forests are in fact dynamic systems undergoing long term floristic re-assortment as well as being susceptible to abrupt short term floristic reorganization.
Photo taken close by the study site. The road that pass through Eastern Andes, and the magnificent Montane forest of western Amazonia behind. (Photo by M. L. Cárdenas)
Who would have thought that building a road in Andes would have allowed us to gain new and unique insight of pristine western- Amazonian forests? (I would have thought completely the opposite). Initially Patricia Mothes, chief of the volcanologist section of the Intituto de Geofisica in Ecuador, was called to look at sediments exposed by road works on the eastern flank of the Ecuadorian Andes. Arriving at the site she found thick (>20 vertical meters) deposits of grayish and dark brown interbedded layers of sediments which looked like they have been recently deposited. At closer inspection Patricia discovered that there were even wood pieces and leaves within the dark sediments (now known to be highly organic) that had the appearance of have been deposited within modern time. She wanted to know more. So a PhD student was recruited (a.k.a. Macarena Cárdenas) to work with the sediments at the Palaeoenvironmental Change Research Group at the Open University under the supervision of Dr William Gosling… And so the study began.
After several years spent dating the sediments, analyzing their composition (physical and elemental) and the fossils (pollen and wood) contained within them preliminary insights into vegetation change on the eastern Andean flank during the middle Pleistocene (c. 200,000-300,000 years ago) were revealed and published (Cárdenas et al., 2011a; Cárdenas et al., 2011b). Further work covering stratigraphically lower sediments (older than those previously published; c. 500,000 year) and more detailed sedimentary and fossil analysis of the entire sequence completed a PhD thesis (Cárdenas, 2011).
I am now pleased to announce that the extended work included in my PhD thesis has now been published in a new article in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology (Cárdenas et al., online). The new paper is an extended version from previous publications from the same research and provides further evidence of the unique insights that can be gained from palaeoenvironmental studies in this region. These are some of the oldest Quaternary sediments ever discovered and studied from the mid-elevation eastern Andean flank / western Amazon and upon their analyses we were able to get for the first time an insight of how human-untouched Amazonian forests were back in time (up to 500,000 years ago!), how was their diversity and how they responded to intense volcanic activity and climatic change.
By Dr Macarena L. Cárdenas
Cárdenas, M.L. (2011) The response of western Amazonian vegetation to fire and climate change: A palaeoecological study. In: Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences, p. 242. The Open University, Milton Keynes
Cárdenas, M.L., Gosling, W.D., Pennington, R.T., Poole, I., Sherlock, S.C. & Mothes, P. (online) Forests of the tropical eastern andean flank during the middle pleistocene. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. DOI:10.1016/j.palaeo.2013.10.009
Cárdenas, M.L., Gosling, W.D., Sherlock, S.C., Poole, I., Pennington, R.T. & Mothes, P. (2011a) The response of vegetation on the Andean flank in western Amazonia to Pleistocene climate change. Science, 331, 1055-1058. DOI: 10.1126/science.1197947
Cárdenas, M.L., Gosling, W.D., Sherlock, S.C., Poole, I., Pennington, R.T. & Mothes, P. (2011b) Response to comment on “the response of vegetation on the Andean flank in western Amazonia to Pleistocene climate change”. Science, 333, 1825. DOI: 10.1126/science.1207888