Eric Grimm – RIP

November 16, 2020
WDG

This note is to acknowledge the passing yesterday of one of the most influential figures in the fields of palynology and palaeoecology, Eric Grimm. While I did not know Eric well he did visit Amsterdam twice in recent years. Firstly, as part of a collaborative initiative to digitise pollen data from the University of Amsterdam archives (March-July 2017), and secondly to train Data Stewards for the African Pollen Database (January 2020). During these visits Eric was generous with his time, masterful with his knowledge, and infectious with his enthusiasm. He will be sadly missed. My deepest condolences to his family and friends. Rest in peace Eric.

Some photos from the meeting in January

Palaeoecology of Africa

April 20, 2020
WDG

I am delighted to announce that a new volume of the classic book series Palaeoecology of Africa is now under development. This new volume (hopefully number 35) will focus on “Quaternary Vegetation Dynamics” and build on recent initiatives to develop the “African Pollen Database”. The volume will be guest edited by Anne-Marie Lezine (LOCEAN), Louis Scott (University of the Free State) and myself, along side the series editor Jürgen Runge (Johann Wolfgang Goethe University). If you are interested to contribute please get in touch.

Scope

The Quaternary Vegetation Dynamics volume of the long-running Palaeoecology of Africa series  will showcase palynological work from across the African continent and surrounding regions, and place this in the context of past climatic, human and evolutionary change. We are keen to use this opportunity to catalyse the archiving of previously published and new datasets into the open access online African Pollen Database. The volume will be published entirely open access online and will contain four types of manuscript: (i) Research papers, (ii) Data papers, (iii) Review papers, and (iv) Perspectives.

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Urban vs. rural pollen in the Netherlands

February 26, 2020
WDG

Urban vs. rural pollen chemistry project design

Figure 1: (a) Illustrative images of sample locations in Amsterdam and the Hoge Veluwe. (b) The newly developed ‘pollen sniffer’ collects airborne pollen from the environment. (c) The FTIR can chemically characterise individual pollen grains.

Does environmental pollution enhance the allergenic nature of pollen? This is the question that drives my NWO Idea Generator grant that has just started. This project links up the pollen chemistry expertise in my group within the Department of Ecosystem & Landscape Dynamics (University of Amsterdam) and the work of Letty de Weger into human health and pollen (Leiden University Medical Centrum). Over the 2020 flowering season we will be monitoring pollen in Amsterdam (urban) and in the Hoge Veluwe (rural) in the space in which people have allergic reactions to see if there is any chemical difference between the pollen in urban and rural settings.

We are delighted that Cas Verbeek has joined the team as a Research Assistant; taking time out from his MSc Biological Sciences degree (University of Amsterdam). Cas is already busy in the field and lab fine tuning our collection and analysis protocols.

Find out more from:

Palaeoecology out on the frontier

February 18, 2020
WDG

Guest post by Dr. Lynne Quick (Nelson Mandela University Palaeoecology Laboratory)

Lynne QuickThe transition from Early Career Researcher (ECR) to head of a new laboratory

When you are in the midst of working on your PhD you feel that this must surely be the toughest challenge you’ll ever face, only to emerge on the other side and realise that it was a holiday in comparison to the academic journey post-PhD.

I completed my PhD at the University of Cape Town (South Africa) and immediately launched myself into a postdoctoral fellowship embedded in a relatively large international research initiative. Building on the expertise and knowledge I gained from my postgraduate work, I generated new pollen and microcharcoal records from the southern Cape and west coast regions of South Africa in order to reveal details about how climate and associated environmental conditions have changed during the Holocene. I found the transition from working almost entirely independently on my PhD to collaborating within the context of a large multidisciplinary and multinational team equally very exciting, and very challenging. At this time imposter syndrome hit me hard and I had a bit of an existential crisis (I’m overqualified, too specialized and not earning enough, what the hell am I doing with my life? – I know we’ve all been there!). Just as I was about to give up on academia, I was approached by Nelson Mandela University, one of the smaller, lesser known, public universities in South Africa, situated in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape Province. After a lot of soul searching, I accepted a research fellowship at NMU, moved out of my home in Cape Town (where I had lived my entire life) and relocated to a new city – by myself, with no contacts, friends or family there.

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A Study in Green

July 5, 2019
WDG

By Rachel Sales (Florida Institute of Technology, USA)

My bike is angry at me.

I’m rattling down an unpaved road in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The brakes screech at every turn, and the chain is close to falling off. Unsurprisingly, the rain is pouring, turning the road into a maze of puddles and mud. The road follows the Anzu River, and I can hear its roar off to my right.

I’m forcing a perfectly innocent bike to brave the Amazon because this road leads to the Herbario Amazónico of the Universidad Estatal Amazónica (ECUAMZ). ECUAMZ (an acronym for “Ecuador Amazon”) is the only herbarium in the Amazon, and contains a repository of plant specimens for preservation and help with field identifications. It was established by Dr. David Neill, a specialist in the Fabaceae (legume) family and world-renowned expert in tropical botany, and Dr. Mercedes Asanza, the coordinator of the herbarium. They have agreed to mentor me over the summer and teach me about tropical plants. The Herbario Amazónico, which contains over 17,000 vascular plant species, is the perfect place to learn.

The view from the top of the tower at Jatun Sacha.

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Chemotaxonomy of domesticated grasses: a pathway to understanding the origins of agriculture

June 7, 2019
WDG

Open access:

Jardine, P.E., Gosling, W.D., Lomax, B.H., Julier, A.C.M. & Fraser, W.T. (2019) Chemotaxonomy of domesticated grasses: a pathway to understanding the origins of agriculture. Journal of Micropalaeontology 38, 83-95. DOI: 10.5194/jm-38-83-2019

Quantitative model for geolocating pollen samples

March 19, 2019
ingehmvhaaften

Quantitative model for geolocating pollen samples

By Inge van Haaften (currently studying for MSc Biological Sciences, Ecology & Evolution track at the University of Amsterdam)

For this “Amsterdam Palaeoecology Club” (APC) meeting we did not discuss a paper, instead I presented my progress on my second research internship of my master’s on the geolocation of pollen samples under the supervision of dr. C. N. H. McMichael. The other students were asked to read the paper ‘Forensic palynology: Why do it and how it works’ by Mildenhall et al. (2006). This paper gives a review of the use of palynological analysis for criminal investigation, which ties in with my research.

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Variability in modern pollen rain from moist and wet tropical forest plots in Ghana, West Africa

October 19, 2018
WDG

Open access:

Julier, A.C.M., Jardine, P.E., Adu-Bredu, S., Coe, A.L., Fraser, W.T., Lomax, B.H., Malhi, Y., Moore, S. & Gosling, W.D. (2018) Variability in modern pollen rain from moist and wet tropical forest plots in Ghana, West Africa. Grana. DOI: 10.1080/00173134.2018.1510027

Palynologendagen 2018

October 10, 2018
WDG

I am delighted to be taking part in this years Palynologendagen (Palynology days) organised by the Palynologische Kring (Dutch Society for Palynology)

Location: Van Waddenplaat to the Drents Plateau
Date: 11-12 October 2018

For full program… Continue Reading

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