On the 19 May the Palynologische Kring (Dutch palynological society) held a hybrid seminar meeting under the theme “Dutch palynologists then and now”.
The meeting was opened by Prof. dr. Henry Hooghiemstra (University of Amsterdam) who focused on the “then” and presented a biopic of pioneering Dutch palynologist Frans Florschütz. Florschütz became one of the major figures in establishing palynology within the Netherlands during the 1900s. Originally, he studied political economy and law, but went on to become the Secretary to the Board of Governors of the Agricultural School in Wageningen. From his position in Wageningen Florschütz had a base to develop his interests in palynology and past environmental change. He started work on the seminar work “Nederland in Ijstijd” (The Netherlands in the Ice Age) in 1939 and it was published in 1950. During his career Florschütz also held positions at Utrecht University (obtaining his doctorate), University of Leiden (endowed chair, until 1958) and University of Nijmegen (post retirement). Click here for further information on Frans Florschütz visit.
The second part of the meeting focused on the “now” with presentations form three Dutch researchers engaged in research abroad. First up with Eric de Boer (Universidad de Granada, Spain), then Thya van den Berg (University of Hull, UK), and finally Henk Cornelissen (University of Manchester, UK). Eric presented new data on the human and climate impacts on the Iberian Peninsula. Thya presented her work in two parts focused on the new datasets on past environmental change from Yorkshire (UK) and then the development of modelling approached to estimate landscape cover on the basis of pollen datasets. Henk took us to the high atlas of Morocco and showed how pollen and chemical data can be integrated to reveal past human presence and impacts.
The next scheduled event will be in the annual excursion which this year will be to Leiden. For further details and to find out more about the Palynologische Kring visit the web pages here.
As part of the (on-line) bachelor level “Big History” course from the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Amsterdam I recently recorded a podcast with Henry Hooghiemstra. Under the banner of “How Has Climate Change Influenced History?” among other things we discussed: (i) the principles of how we can obtain information on past climatic and environmental change, (ii) how global climate changed between cold (glacial states) and warm (interglacial states) during the last 2.6 million years (Quaternary), and (iii) past human impacts and influences on environmental and climatic change.
Title: Environmental change in the Yaque river area, northwestern Dominican Republic: Human impact before and after Columbus’ arrival in the New World
Date: Wednesday 26 October, 11:00-12:00
Location: Science Park 904 (please contact Henry Hooghiemstra for details if you want to attend)
Abstract: Multiproxy analysis of the 225-cm long sediment core Los Indios from the Yaque river valley in northwestern Dominican Republic (Hispaniola) shows environmental changes during the last 1150 cal yr BP. The observed changes show a period of little human distubance, followed by increasing human activity and a rapid intensification of these changes after Columbus’ arrival in AD 1492. The fastest changes on the landscape can be observed at 307 cal yr BP, when agricultural development in the Dominican Republic intensified.
View Schuetze’s work on recreating Mauritius in 3D on Vimeo
I contributed some new work on human-landscape interaction in the central Andes, entitled: “Ecosystem service provision sets the pace for pre-Columbian Andean societal development”. It was very exciting to get feedback from such an esteemed audience on this new work. The days talks concluded with the IBED seminar given by Mark Bush (Florida Institute of Technology) which countinued the South American human-environment theme but we moved to the lowlands for “Amazonia in 1491: A paleoecological perspective”. Mark’s talk built on his recent work exmining the extent of human impact on Amazonia (references 1-3 below) which has cautioned against assuming widespread and intensive human impact within Amazonia prior to the arrival of Europeans.
Following the seminars we had drinks at the institute and an excellent meal in Amsterdam. Thanks again to Henry and all those at IBED who hosted a high class and scientifically stimulating meeting.