Netherlands Annual Ecology Meeting 2016 – day 1

February 10, 2016
WDG

NAEM_0Netherlands Annual Ecology Meeting (NAEM) 2016
9 February 2016
Conference Centre “De Werelt”, Lunteren

The annual Dutch ecology conference is being held over two days at the in “remote” Lunteren and I am pleased to be able to attend all of the conference this year. The conference was kicked off this morning with a recognition that this year is 150 years since the birth of ecology as a science (Haeckel, 1866). The opening two keynotes focused on aspects of ecology which have sometimes been overlooked firstly, parasitism (Peter Hudson, Penn State University) and secondly, immunology (Irene Tieleman, University of Groningen). Following these I focused on just two sessions in the morning “linking diversity to function”, and in the afternoon “ecosystem cascades”. From the range of excellent talks in the sessions I have picked one from each as my favourite:

  1. Masha van der Sande (Wageningen University) The role of biodiversity and environment on productivity in tropical forests; evidence across scales
    By examining long-term tropical forest monitoring data van der Sande demonstrated that through time ecosystem traits changed significantly. She hypothesised that the lack of stability in ecosystem traits was due to past disturbance; although it is unclear what caused this disturbance (climate or humans), or when it occurred.
  2. Dries Kuijper (Mammal Research Institute, Poland) Landscapes of fear in Europe: Wolves and humans shaping ungulate top-down effects
    By tracking Wolf pack distributions in the Bialowieza forest (Poland) Kuijper showed that ungulates avoided Wolf pack  “core areas” for fear of predation, that the exclusion of ungulates lead to reduced browsing of the vegetation, and so consequently forests regenerated faster in Wolf pack core areas.

The evening lecture was given by Bart Knols (in2care) who gave an impassioned talk on the importance of communicating science beyond the academic sphere. Arguing that now is the time for ecologists to have an influence on policy making, politics and business, as well as showing us how he has done this.

Great day.

Continue Reading

Haffer, J. (1969) Speciation in Amazonian forest birds. Science 165, 131-137. DOI: 10.1126/science.165.3889.131

Mackenzie, G., Boa, A.N., Taboada, A.D., Atkin, S.L. & Sathyapalan, T. (2015) Sporopollenin, the least known yet toughest natural biopolymer. Frontiers in Materials  2DOI: 10.3389/fmats.2015.00066

Nelson, B.W., Ferreira, C.A.C., da Silva, M.F. & Kawasaki, M.L. (1990) Endemism centers, refugia and botanial collection density in Brazilian Amazonia. Nature 345, 714-716. DOI: 10.1038/345714a0

Souto, C.P., Kitzberger, T., Arbetman, M.P. & Premoli, A.C. (2015) How do cold-sensitive species endure ice ages? Phylogeographic and paleodistribution models of postglacial range expansion of the mesothermic drought-tolerant conifer Austrocedrus chilensis. New Phytologist 208, 960-972. DOI: 10.1111/nph.13508
COMMENT: Variation in genetic diversity used to infer the location of glacial refugia.

Journal articles

  • 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…

Plus three papers discussed during the University of Amsterdam BSc Biology Tropical Ecology course trip to De Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam:

  • 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

 

Ecology of the past on film: Hayley Keen

October 6, 2015
WDG

Whilst conducting her PhD research Hayley Keen helped produced two of short films about her research project Past environmental change on the eastern Andean flank, Ecuador:

  1. on her field work, which was the winning entry into the American Geophysical Union (AGU) student video competition in 2014, and
  2. a presentation summing up her PhD project in just 3 minutes!

First prize in the AGU student video competition (2014)

Three minute thesis (The Open University, 2014)

Follow Hayley’s ongoing research on this blog and on Twitter @Hayley1keen 

Keen PhD Thesis 2015

September 30, 2015
WDG

Hayley Keen getting excited about sediments during fieldwork in Ecuador (2012). Photo: J. Malley

Hayley Keen getting excited about sediments during fieldwork in Ecuador (2012). Photo: J. Malley

Keen, H.F. (2015) Past environmental change on the eastern Andean flank, Ecuador. PhD Thesis, Department of Environment, Earth & Ecosystems, The Open University.

Abstract
The eastern Andean flank of Ecuador (EAF) contains some of the world’s most biodiverse ecosystems. Andean montane forests are threatened due to anthropogenic pressures and both current and projected climate change. This thesis examines the palaeoecological history of two stratigraphic sequences (Mera Tigre West [MTW] and Mera Tigre East [MTE]) obtained from the Ecuadorian modern lower montane forest. The sediments preserved were analysed using eight analytical techniques, allowing an insight into the ecosystem’s potential response to projected changes derived from their past responses. Palaeoecological studies on the EAF are rare, and those that do exist are debated relating to: i) the inference of robust ecological data from pollen records in floristically diverse locations, and ii) the past source area of sediments preserved in fluvially exposed sequences, potentially leading to contamination with older material.

A statistical sub-sampling tool was developed (debate i), capable of producing statistically robust count sizes for each pollen sample; MTW and MTE count sizes ranged from 196-982 showing the diversity within sequences. The depositional environment of MTE was analysed, investigating sediment provenance throughout (debate ii). Results found that large scale volcanic events were critical in the preservation of the sediments, whereas fluvial influence caused a regional sediment source area in the upper stratigraphy, impacting on the palynological interpretation of MTE. Pollen records demonstrated the presence of a diverse vegetation community with no modern analogue at MTE (abundant taxa (>15 %): Hedyosmum, Wettinia, Ilex) and upper montane forest at MTW (Alnus, Hedyosmum, Podocarpus). Fire was not the main driver for the vegetation reassortment at either site (MTW correlation coefficient: -0.37, MTE: 0.16). The two sites have demonstrated the EAF plays host to floristically dynamic ecosystems, susceptible to drivers of change (fire and landscape) and should be considered when predicting the montane forests’ future response to environmental change.

Supervisors: Dr. William D. Gosling (The Open University/University of Amsterdam), Dr. Encarni Montoya and Dr. Sarah Sherlock (both The Open University).
Examiners: Dr. Dunia Urrego (University of Exeter), and Prof. David Gowing (The Open University).
Chair: Dr. Mark Brandon (The Open University).

To borrow a copy from The Open University Library click here.

Publications (so far): Continue Reading

JOB: PhD candidate in Palaeoecology & Landscape Ecology

July 28, 2015
WDG

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 application-science@uva.nl, 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.

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