Tardigrade egg found in Ghanaian pollen trap by Adele
Here is a summary of what other people have been up to:
Lottie Miller: submission and approval of thesis corrections (hooray), working on British Ecological Society grant application.
Hayley Keen: is finishing up lab work (macro charcoal – done, XRF – done, wood macrofossils – thin sectioned, awaiting identification, pollen – just 4 more samples!); and dealing with minor review revisions to first submitted paper (hooray).
Frazer Bird: finished the data collection for two Ecuadorian lakes (Banos and Pindo) and will hopefully begin to write up this data soon; attended the NERC stats course (very useful; would advise everyone to try and get on it).
Nick Loughlin: has split and logged the sediment cores recovered from Lake Huila (Ecuador) during recent fieldwork, and begun preparing the samples for pollen.
Adele Julier: has been preparing pollen trap samples from Ghana and learning tropical pollen.
Emily Sear: has mostly been on holiday and we are still waiting for the post card! She has also been working at getting results that make sense from the MS2.
Phil Jardine: has been oxidising spores to see what it does to the chemistry, generating FTIR data with the oxidised samples and starting the numerical analysis, and editing film footage from the 2013 Ghana trip.
Encarni Montoya: has been doing pollen lab and analysing pollen from Baños, and comparing the midges trends from Pindo and Baños with Frazer.
Wes Fraser: Reported back to Royal Society on finding from research grant – paper containing exciting results to follow in next couple of months.
Some pollen from Adele’s pollen traps in Ghana
We have also had 4 papers published with 2014 dates on them:
Cárdenas, M.L., Gosling, W.D., Pennington, R.T., Poole, I., Sherlock, S.C. & Mothes, P. (2014) Forests of the tropical eastern Andean flank during the middle Pleistocene. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 393: 76-89. doi: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2013.10.009
Fraser, W.T., Watson, J.S., Sephton, M.A., Lomax, B.H., Harrington, G., Gosling, W.D. & Self, S. (2014) Changes in spore chemistry and appearance with increasing maturity. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 201, 41-46. doi:10.1016/j.revpalbo.2013.11.001
Photo taken close by the study site. The road that pass through Eastern Andes, and the magnificent Montane forest of western Amazonia behind. (Photo by M. L. Cárdenas)
Who would have thought that building a road in Andes would have allowed us to gain new and unique insight of pristine western- Amazonian forests? (I would have thought completely the opposite). Initially Patricia Mothes, chief of the volcanologist section of the Intituto de Geofisica in Ecuador, was called to look at sediments exposed by road works on the eastern flank of the Ecuadorian Andes. Arriving at the site she found thick (>20 vertical meters) deposits of grayish and dark brown interbedded layers of sediments which looked like they have been recently deposited. At closer inspection Patricia discovered that there were even wood pieces and leaves within the dark sediments (now known to be highly organic) that had the appearance of have been deposited within modern time. She wanted to know more. So a PhD student was recruited (a.k.a. Macarena Cárdenas) to work with the sediments at the Palaeoenvironmental Change Research Group at the Open University under the supervision of Dr William Gosling… And so the study began.
After several years spent dating the sediments, analyzing their composition (physical and elemental) and the fossils (pollen and wood) contained within them preliminary insights into vegetation change on the eastern Andean flank during the middle Pleistocene (c. 200,000-300,000 years ago) were revealed and published (Cárdenas et al., 2011a; Cárdenas et al., 2011b). Further work covering stratigraphically lower sediments (older than those previously published; c. 500,000 year) and more detailed sedimentary and fossil analysis of the entire sequence completed a PhD thesis (Cárdenas, 2011).
I am now pleased to announce that the extended work included in my PhD thesis has now been published in a new article in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology (Cárdenas et al., online). The new paper is an extended version from previous publications from the same research and provides further evidence of the unique insights that can be gained from palaeoenvironmental studies in this region. These are some of the oldest Quaternary sediments ever discovered and studied from the mid-elevation eastern Andean flank / western Amazon and upon their analyses we were able to get for the first time an insight of how human-untouched Amazonian forests were back in time (up to 500,000 years ago!), how was their diversity and how they responded to intense volcanic activity and climatic change.
By Dr Macarena L. Cárdenas
Cárdenas, M.L. (2011) The response of western Amazonian vegetation to fire and climate change: A palaeoecological study. In: Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences, p. 242. The Open University, Milton Keynes
Cárdenas, M.L., Gosling, W.D., Pennington, R.T., Poole, I., Sherlock, S.C. & Mothes, P. (online) Forests of the tropical eastern andean flank during the middle pleistocene. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. DOI:10.1016/j.palaeo.2013.10.009
Cárdenas, M.L., Gosling, W.D., Sherlock, S.C., Poole, I., Pennington, R.T. & Mothes, P. (2011a) The response of vegetation on the Andean flank in western Amazonia to Pleistocene climate change. Science, 331, 1055-1058. DOI: 10.1126/science.1197947
Cárdenas, M.L., Gosling, W.D., Sherlock, S.C., Poole, I., Pennington, R.T. & Mothes, P. (2011b) Response to comment on “the response of vegetation on the Andean flank in western Amazonia to Pleistocene climate change”. Science, 333, 1825. DOI: 10.1126/science.1207888
Woodland resources in the high Andes have varied through the last 5000 years and influenced human societal development. The relationship between people and natural resources in the Andes is explored in the recently published Gosling & Williams (2013); http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1177/0959683613496296
In July we have managed to get a number of individual blog posts out so teaching activity on summer school, publications and conference reports have already been covered. Behind the scenes progress in the lab has continued despite the hot weather:
Frazer has commenced writing of his Chironomid training data set paper, and analysis of a fossil chironomid record.
Hayley has been plugging away at the analysis of pollen from Mera, and has got the first of her wood macrofossil samples prepared for thin sectioning (fingers crossed next month we may start to get some identifications on these!).
Lottie, Natalie and Bryan are keeping their supervisors very busy with reading material as they continue a pace with writing up.
Phil is setting up the Bosumtwi pollen chemistry project (we now have an offical grant code!) and is settling in; hopefully he should be moved down to MK very soon!
And Encarni is multi tasking and organising everything as usual 🙂
The first half of our field work expedition to Ecuador has now been completed. We had a very successful visit to Mera collecting samples from three new sections and recovered short cores from four lakes.
The sediment sections have yielded many wood macrofossils and samples for pollen analysis. It is anticipated that these will shed light on the nature of tropical vegetation during the last glacial period and before. Some of these samples will be analyzed by Hayley as part of her PhD research.
The sedimentary section found near Mera contained layers of crushed forest beneath volcanic ash. These “forest beds” provide a snapshot of vegetation in the landscape at the time of eruption. Part of plants growing on the landscape thousands of years ago are clearly preserved in the sediment.