“Can you go back?” by Mark Bush – Part 2

September 21, 2019
WDG

Mark Bush

Mark Bush

The second of three guest blog posts by Prof. Mark Bush (Florida Institute of Technology). Click here to read Part 1.

The next two days were spent in motorized dugouts sitting on our gear bags, with tarps pulled over us. Every now and then the driving rain would relent and we would see macaws and toucans flying across the Aguarico River. We stayed one night in a village that had been abandoned due to recent floods, another with Siona hunters who were preparing their blow darts (for monkeys). There were very few houses along the river and we hardly saw another boat in three days. Then we arrived, well almost. We had turned off the main channel onto the tiny Zancudo river.  Little used, this stream was a jumble of fallen trees that the Siona chopped their way through. A large tree just beneath the surface posed a problem that was solved by stripping the bark from Cecropiatrees and laying it inside surface facing up, backing up, revving the engine, and aiming straight for the bark. The slick insides of the Cecropiaallowed the canoes to shoot the trunk and on we went. Then we reached the marsh. When I say ‘marsh’ it was a forest of Montricardia arborescens. This is an aquatic Aroid that grows about 3 m high. The trunks are about 3-5 cm in diameter and is THE favored hangout for caiman and anaconda (I have since learned). No Siona in their right mind gets out of a boat in such a marsh and so we were stuck……so close but yet so far. Our only chance of getting through the marsh was to hop out of the boats and pull them through.

The author pulling a canoe through the marsh at Zancudococha in 1988. Photo: Miriam Steinitz-Kannan.

The author pulling a canoe through the marsh at Zancudococha in 1988.
Photo: Miriam Steinitz-Kannan.

We had two boats and so the most dispensable members of the team, Paulo de Oliveira and I, were given the job of hauling the boats. A couple of happy hours later we were through the marsh and onto the lake.

Our first jobs were to find somewhere dry enough to camp, unload, set up camp, and survey the lake. Paul Colinvaux the team leader always launched an inflatable and surveyed the lake on first arrival. Meanwhile the rest of us set up camp. About 20 minutes into all this activity there was the unmistakable crack of a shotgun. In a few more minutes the Chief’s sons emerged from the forest with the news that they had shot a large tapir. The tapir fed the group for the next few days, but I ate tuna and a sausage that had turned blue and slimy, unable to reconcile my role in, what to me, was an unfortunate outcome of our petitioning the Siona to bring us to their sacred lake. The coring was more successful than at Cuyabeno in that we recovered 5m of sediment, but it was clearly a young system and wouldn’t answer our research question. This expedition was a disappointment scientifically, but an incredible snapshot along the gradient of Amazonian development.

To be continued…

Plant Ecology & Diversity

February 22, 2019
WDG

I recently joined the editorial board of Plant Ecology & Diversity at the invitation of editor-in-chief Laszlo Nagy (University of  Campinas, Brazil). The journal focuses on ecological and evolutionary issues within plant biology with broad themes covering biodiversity, conservation and global change. Furthermore, I think this is a particularly interesting journal to be involved with because of its option for double-blind peer reviews, commitment to providing a platform for ‘negative results’ and ‘repeat experiments’, and its open access Grubb Review series (Nagy & Resco de Dios, 2016); which already includes many significant articles, including: Ashton (2017), Barbeta & Peñuelas (2016), Grubb (2016), Körner (2018), Valladares et al. (2016), and Wilkinson & Sherratt (2016). In addition to the invited Grubb Reviews the journal publishes: research articles, short communications, reviews, and scientific correspondence. My role on the editorial board will be to cover submissions related to tropical palaeoecology and biogeography. So please consider submitting to Plant Ecology & Diversity if you have some exciting new research or ideas that you think would be appropriate.

 

References Continue Reading

Job: PhD in Macroecology/Palaeoecology

September 12, 2018
WDG

There is a vacancy for a 3 or 4-year PhD position at the University of Bergen’s Department of Biological Sciences.

The successful candidate will be primarily responsible for developing tests for evaluating the effect of humans through space and time on species range sizes and developing analyses to compare diversity patterns and range sizes from different data sources in mountainous regions, interpretation of pollen-stratigraphical data for reconstructing range size through time, and applying mapping techniques to assess the patterns over time and space. 

Special requirements for the position:

  • The successful candidate must have knowledge and experience of quantitative analyses of ecological or palaeoecological data (preferably using the statistical software R), as well as documented skills in one or more research fields relevant to the position.
  • Experience with large databases and some experience with geospatial analysis software, such as in ESRI ArcGIS, QGIS or R is an advantage.
  • It would be beneficial to have a background in one or more of the following research fields: biogeography, macroecology, palaeoecology, mountain biodiversity, community ecology, applied statistics, numerical ecology.

Main PhD Supervisor:  Prof. John-Arvid Grytnes. Co-supervised by: Dr. Suzette Flantua

To find out more click here.

INQUA 2019: The changing tropical landscape

July 26, 2018
WDG

20th Congress of the International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA)

Abstract submission is now open for INQUA 2019 in Dublin Ireland (25-31 July 2019). Please consider submitting to the special session I am co-organizing on landscape change in the tropics. Submissions welcome from the fields of biogeography, palaeoecology, geomorphology, volcanology, and archaeology. Click here to submit your abstract.TITLE: The changing tropical landscape
ORGANIZERS: William D. Gosling and Crystal N.H. McMichael (University of Amsterdam)

Eighteenth century explorers marveled at the diversity of tropical ecosystems seemingly untouched by human activity. As a result of these observations, the notion of tropical stability, in terms of vegetation and climate, came to underpin theories of evolution, ecology, and biogeography. Gradually, however, it has become apparent that tropical landscapes have changed markedly through time in response to global climate cycles, (a)biotic factors, and human activity. For example, Continue Reading

A novel approach to study the morphology and chemistry of pollen in a phylogenetic context, applied to the halophytic taxon Nitraria L.(Nitrariaceae)

July 23, 2018
WDG

Open access:

Woutersen, A., Jardine, P.E., Bogota-Angel, R.G., Zhang, H., Silvestro, D., Antonelli, A., Gogna, E., Erkens, R.H.J., Gosling, W.D., Dupont-Nivet, G. & Hoorn, C. (2018) A novel approach to study the morphology and chemistry of pollen in a phylogenetic context, applied to the halophytic taxon Nitraria L.(Nitrariaceae). PeerJ 6, e5055. DOI: 10.7717/peerj.5055

Modeling the ecology and evolution of biodiversity: Biogeographical cradles, museums, and graves

July 19, 2018
WDG

Rangel, T.F., Edwards, N.R., Holden, P.B., Diniz-Filho, J.A.F., Gosling, W.D., Coelho, M.T.P., Cassemiro, F.A.S., Rahbek, C. & Colwell, R.K. (2018) Modeling the ecology and evolution of biodiversity: Biogeographical cradles, museums, and graves. Science 361, . DOI: 10.1126/science.aar5452

Polylepis woodland dynamics during the last 20,000 years

March 23, 2018
WDG

Valencia, B.G., Bush, M.B., Coe, A.L., Elizabeth, O. & Gosling, W.D. (2018) Polylepis woodland dynamics during the last 20,000 years. Journal of Biogeography online. DOI: 10.1111/jbi.13209

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