Keep on pollen sniffing

May 5, 2020
WDG

By Cas Verbeek (University of Amsterdam)

Luckily, in spite of these trying times, we are allowed to continue our research in Amsterdam and on the Veluwe to determine the effects of air pollution on airborne pollen grains. Unfortunately for us (but generally perhaps one of the few silver linings of this situation), the COVID-19 lockdown has largely eliminated our main variable of interest; air pollution.

With traffic in the city at a minimum, any chemical differences might not be as pronounced between the city and rural areas. However, this may actually provide us with a unique opportunity to get a baseline of the pollen chemistry in Amsterdam with relatively little pollution. This baseline may also be of interest to projects working on urban air quality and greenifying urban spaces, such as the projects in the Amsterdam Knowledge Mile Park, which is included amongst our sampling locations.

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For more about our project on pollen and pollution in the Netherlands see other posts:

Pollen in the Netherlands

April 21, 2020
WDG

By Letty de Weger (Leiden University Medical Centrum)

In the coming weeks lots of pollen can be collected. Due to the nice, sunny weather birch trees are in full flower and release their pollen into the air.  This is of course not so good news for the individuals sensitized to the pollen of birch because they can suffer from hay fever symptoms.

Next to birch also the ash trees are flowering. The black buds of the ash branches have bursted, releasing the purple anthers (first figure). Among those anthers you can see some that release their yellow pollen  (second figure).

For more about our project on pollen and pollution in the Netherlands see other posts:

Introducing Cas Verbeek

March 4, 2020
WDG

Cas Verbeek

Cas Verbeek

Hey everyone!

For those who I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting yet; I am Cas Verbeek, a second years Ecology and Evolution MSc student at the University of Amsterdam. For the coming months I am excited to be working with William and Letty to investigate the difference in allergenicity between pollen from urban and rural environments.

This project fits nicely with my BSc thesis where I investigated the taxonomy and phylogeny of pollen chemistry. Hopefully I can apply the experience I have gained there to help make this a successful project! Besides, the data we will be collecting could build on the data I collected during my BSc thesis and help to further unravel the taxonomic and phylogenetic information contained in the chemistry of pollen. I am looking forward to the work that I will be doing with William and Letty, and to share and discuss our progress here with all of you!

-Cas

Jardine, P.E., Abernethy, F.A.J., Lomax, B.H., Gosling, W.D. & Fraser, W.T. (2017) Shedding light on sporopollenin chemistry, with reference to UV reconstructions. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 238, 1-6. DOI: 10.1016/j.revpalbo.2016.11.014

 

Scientific methods in archaeology

November 10, 2016
WDG

Preparing my lecture for the new Scientific Methods in Archaeology course for VU Amsterdam and University of Amsterdam students studying a minor in Geoarchaeology. The focus will be on detecting human activity in the past, to illustrate this I will include Easter Island/Rapa Nui as a case study. We will focus on how palaeoecological evidence can be used to gain insights into past human activity. Whilst putting this together I discovered these nice documentaries looking at humans and their environmental impacts on Easter Island/Rapa Nui which I wanted to share, they show how much effort people would have had to put into altering their landscape:

For further information see also:

Rull, V., Cañellas-Boltà, N., Saez, A., Margalef, O., Bao, R., Pla-Rabes, S., Valero-Garcés, B. & Giralt, S. (2013) Challenging Easter Island’s collapse: The need for interdisciplinary synergies. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 1, DOI: 10.3389/fevo.2013.00003

Published open access:

Julier, A.C.M., Jardine, P.E., Coe, A.L., Gosling, W.D., Lomax, B.H. & Fraser, W.T. (2016) Chemotaxonomy as a tool for interpreting the cryptic diversity of Poaceae pollen. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 235, 140-147. DOI: 10.1016/j.revpalbo.2016.08.004

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