Past environmental change in the Amazon basin – AGU video

September 8, 2014
WDG

Hayley Keen’s video “Past environmental change in the Amazon basin” has been shortlisted for the American Geophysical Union (AGU) student video prize. Please watch and like Hayley’s video; top “Liked” videos will win entry to the AGU 2014 Fall meeting.

View all the videos on the AGU YouTube channel.

Fieldwork in Ecuador 2013

December 13, 2013
WDG

Nick and Will with Carman (director of the Pindo Mirador biological station)

Nick and Will with Carman (director of the Pindo Mirador biological station)

Three members of the PCRG (William Gosling, Encarni Montoya and Nick Loughlin) visited Ecuador (November-December 2013) to develop collaborations with Ecuadorian institutions, recover more lake sediments, and find new potential sites for projects. Below are some photos from:

  1. Lake Pindo, 
  2. Lake Huila, and
  3. Lake Erazo.

Full reports on specific aspects of the fieldwork to follow.

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Introducing Adele Julier: New PCRG PhD researcher

October 14, 2013
adelecmj

Adele Julier

Adele Julier and a Malvaceae

Hello! I’m Adele and I started my PhD about a week ago. It’s been a little intense but I can almost find the lab without a map now, so it is probably time to introduce myself.

I’ll be studying pollen-vegetation relationships in Ghana, as part of the NERC funded project500,000 years of solar irradiance, climate and vegetation changes’. This means I’ll be using pollen traps to figure out how pollen outputs vary between (and sometimes within) different vegetation types in Ghana. I will also be trying my hand at chemotaxonomy and video making. I’m heading out to Ghana (along with Phil Jardine) in just over a week to do my first lot of field work which will involve seeing the plots, collecting existing traps, replacing them with new ones, and setting up some new sites. I’m very excited.

My background is broadly botanical; I did a BA at Magdalene College, Cambridge in Natural Sciences specialising in Plant Science and then an MSc in Biodiversity and Taxonomy of Plants at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh.

Here’s a picture of me holding the biggest Malvaceae flower I’d ever seen and being incredibly happy about that.

To find out more about me visit my blog: Plants in real life

PCRG September

October 2, 2013
WDG

Section of fossil wood from Ecuador

Section of fossil wood from Ecuador

Having been away for half of the month I asked people to provide a summary of what they have been up to. Here is what they admitted to…

Natalie Ludgate and Lottie Miller have submitted their theses! Well done.

Hayley Keen: “Continual pollen counting, second lot of Argon dating done, and first set of wood macrofossils back and ready for identification!”

Frazer Bird: “At the start of September I began working as a technician as part of Encarni’s project. I am looking at the midges from the core we collected together on our last field trip. Things are going well, although the midges are hard to find in the older sections the preservation in early sequences is great. The resolution of this core looks to be fantastic also so and hopefully we will get some interesting results when we compare all the proxies.   Away fromthe lab I presented at INTECOL 2013 in London, The talk seemed to go down well and was noted as highly commended by the judging panel. Great publicity all round for the midges!!!”

Bryan Valencia: Has been on field work in Peru during this time he presented a talk on climate change to the Asociación para la Conservación de la Cuenca Amazónica, and gave interviews to local journalists and two TV stations. He also collected sediments from two locations, and manged to obtain a new US visa. He is now working on the final stages of submitting his thesis.

Phil Jardine: Phil has been busy ordering in microscopes and other equipment for the Lake Bosumtwi project (the first of which arrived today), and setting up the trip to Ghana that he’ll be going on with new PhD student Adele Julier in late October. He’s also been attempting to learn more about geochemistry, which has proved challenging.

Encarni Montoya:

  • Lake Pindo: We have finally the results of 6 samples radiocarbon dated from NRCF through our collaborator Dr Pauline Gulliver, and we have sent 4 more to “range find” the key interval of interests for the FORSENS project. We have started the midges’ analysis although it seems this going to be focused to the upper 4 meters of sediment. We would like to discern possible preservation issues in tropical records for this proxy. Some samples for a preliminary screening looking for diatoms ahve been collected and sent to the new FORSENS collaborator Teresa Vegas-Vilarrúbia. MS samples have been also collected for the first three drives and we hope to run this analysis next month.
  • Lake Banos: We have started the pollen prep. for the upper section of the record.
  • Management tasks: We are now ready for the tropical record Lake Marcacocha pollen prep., collaborating with an ongoing project lead by Alex Chepstow-Lusty. On a different topic, I have started the organisation of department seminars, so I would like to highlight if you have any potential speaker, please contact me.
  • Publications: a co-authorship in a paper published in Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics authored by Valentí Rull and his research group in the Botanical Institute of Barcelona is now available on line (click here)

William Gosling: “I have been promoted to Senior Lecturer (hooray), started work on the new level 2 environmental science module, been working on a new paper from the Erazo study site, and had a holiday!”

Lake coring equipment

July 17, 2013
WDG

Trecking with sediment corer in the high Andes of Peru

Trecking with sediment corer in the high Andes of Peru

When it comes to collecting sediments from lakes its all about having the right tools for the job. Working in remote areas of the tropics we tend to favour the Colinvaux-Vohnout corer; supplied by Vince Vohnout at Geo-core). The advantages of this system are:

  1. its light-weight nature (can be backpacked or donkeyed into field sites), and 
  2. the cam system (which allows hammering to penetrate tough sediments).

    Eric Martinez carrying an Avon Redstart back out from Laguna Khomer Kotcha (Williams et al., 2011)

    Eric Martinez carrying an Avon Redstart back out from Laguna Khomer Kotcha (Williams et al., 2011a)

With the right platform (two banana boats and an A-frame) we have manged to retrive c. 20 m of sediment from  20 m of water (c. 40 m of drill rod extended); Lake Pacucha, Peru (Hillyer et al., 2009). More typically we use two Avon Redstart inflatables and a platform following the design of Colinvaux et al. (1999).

Recent debate on the International Paleolimnology Association list server saw recommendations for a number of other systems.

Including: UWITECH gravity corer, Pylonex gravity corer, Aquatic Research Instrument products, and modified systems by Jason Curtis at University of Florida.

I would be interested if anyone has any thoughts on the relative merits of these systems (or others) and there capabilities.

Photos and references below:

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American tour: Biogeography meeting & Ecuador field work

February 26, 2013
Fray

PCRG COMPLETE AGAIN

Image

I am glad to say that after almost two months out of the office running around with 8 bags of equipment, Frazer and I have finished our tour of the Americas. As the work has been so diverse, we would like to split our comments and impressions into two different posts, we hope you enjoy them!

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PCRG January

January 31, 2013
WDG

BES centenary logo

We are taking the BES festival of ecology to music festivals in 2013! “Tell me when”… you’d better read the blog!

January seems to have flown past and has been another active month. With group members variously involved in:

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