Past environmental change on Samoa

February 16, 2016
WDG

Zoe and William just after the graduation ceremony (UvA)

Zoe and William just after the graduation ceremony (UvA)

Two students (Zoe van Kemenade and Tessa Driessen) have recently completed projects looking at past environmental change on Samoa working in the Research Group of Palaeoecology & Landscape Ecology at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). Zoe’s project, part of her BSc Future Planet Studies (major Earth Sciences) at UvA, was entitled “A multi‐proxy analysis on the effect of climate and human activity on the environment of Samoa during the Holocene” and investigated charcoal, macro-fossils, and algae. Tessa’s project, “Biodiversity, fire and human dynamics on Samoa over the last 9200 years”, was completed as an internship during her MSc in Environmental Biology at Utrecht University (UU) that was co-supervised by Rike Wagner-Cremer. Tessa focused on the fossil pollen record to reconstruct past vegetation change. Both projects were conducted in cooperation with Jon Hassel and David Sear (both University of Southampton) who provided access to the Samoan sediments; for more on the Southampton Pacific Islands projects check out their blog Palaeoenvironmental Laboratory at the University of Southampton.

The results from both projects, and work by the University of Southampton team, will be presented at this years GTO conference (European conference of tropical ecology) in Gottingen next week.

William giving his personal view on the work of Tessa at her gradation ceremony (Utrecht University)

William giving his personal view on the work of Tessa at her gradation ceremony (UU)

 

Introducing Corine Driessen

July 7, 2015
corine102

DriessenCHi Everyone,

It’s very nice to be invited to write something for this blog, let me introduce myself a little bit.

I am a MSc Earth Sciences student at the University of Amsterdam. Currently I am working on my master thesis at Naturalis Biodiversity Center, under supervision of Niels Raes, Willem Renema and William Gosling. We are looking at species migration between Australia and Asia during the Miocene, and we compare it to migration between N and S America at the dawn of the Great American Biotic Interchange. To do so I’m analysing data on fossil occurrences in Australia and Southeast Asia. Hopefully this research will lead to interesting new insights.

Before starting my MSc Earth Sciences I did a bachelor in Biology at Leiden University. I decided to do a master’s in Earth Sciences because it offered a broader perspective of the natural world and its processes.

I like analysing and sorting out data like I’m currently doing for my thesis with fossil occurrence data. It also played a major role in my internship at TNO – Caribbean Branche Office, where I was involved in starting a database containing information on Aruba’s subsurface. During my internship I also experienced the “Green Aruba” conference and was involved in organising a geological excursion for some of the attendants. I am very interested in environmental issues and solutions, such as the transition to renewable energy. New technologies spike my interest a lot and I like being aware of innovations in a whole lot of fields.

Hopefully I will have my thesis ready within a couple of months, and can give an update about some of the findings.

Corine

Introducing Tessa Driessen

February 16, 2015
TessaDriessen

Tessa DriessenHi I’m Tessa and really excited to introduce myself here!

I’m an Environmental Biology Master student from Utrecht University (UU) doing a research internship in Amsterdam with William Gosling and Rike Wagner of the UU. Most people would describe me as a typical biologist because I like identifying plants and know some birds by their name. Personally I disagree because I lack the beard and hardly wear woollen socks. Besides looking at birds and plants I’m also interested in biodiversity and palaeoecology, and I will try to combine these interests in my research project on a sediment core from Samoa. I will be working on lake sediment cores from Samoa and hope fossil record can give me an overview of the natural history of the island (past c. 10,000 years); and an insight into what impact human colonisation had on the biodiversity. To explore the islands natural history I will be looking at pollen, charcoal and non pollen palynomorphs.

The sediment core on which I will be working has already been recovered and currently resides in beautiful Southampton (UK). So I’m spared of a 30 hour trip to tropical Samoa and the opportunity to return with some Samoan tattoo’s and a tan… So thanks to David Sear and his team at the University of Southampton with whom I will be collaborating for this project.

I have a long standing interest in tropical islands. Before commencing this research internship I did my first masters internship at WWF Indonesia. For my WWF internship I spent three months in the tropics collecting baseline ecological data on timber companies located in a new reserve in Sumatra. Furthermore, during my bachelor degree, I did a research internship at Naturalis Biodiversity Center investigating the “Correlation between higher altitudes and endemic plant species” in the Malayan archipelago. Our results turned out much better then we hoped for and fingers crossed our article will be accepted soon!

In three weeks I will be starting in the lab in Amsterdam and hopefully in a few months will be able to post an update about my results here.

Tessa

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