Modern pollen rain predicts shifts in plant trait composition but not plant diversity along the Andes-Amazon elevational gradient

July 24, 2020
WDG

Journal of Vegetation ScienceOnline:

van der Sande, M.T., Bush, M.B., Urrego, D.H., Silman, M., Farfan-Rios, W., García Cabrera, K., Shenkin, A., Malhi, Y., McMichael, C.H. & Gosling, W.D. (2020) Modern pollen rain predicts shifts in plant trait composition but not plant diversity along the Andes-Amazon elevational gradient. Journal of Vegetation Science DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12925.

Keep on pollen sniffing

May 5, 2020
WDG

By Cas Verbeek (University of Amsterdam)

Luckily, in spite of these trying times, we are allowed to continue our research in Amsterdam and on the Veluwe to determine the effects of air pollution on airborne pollen grains. Unfortunately for us (but generally perhaps one of the few silver linings of this situation), the COVID-19 lockdown has largely eliminated our main variable of interest; air pollution.

With traffic in the city at a minimum, any chemical differences might not be as pronounced between the city and rural areas. However, this may actually provide us with a unique opportunity to get a baseline of the pollen chemistry in Amsterdam with relatively little pollution. This baseline may also be of interest to projects working on urban air quality and greenifying urban spaces, such as the projects in the Amsterdam Knowledge Mile Park, which is included amongst our sampling locations.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For more about our project on pollen and pollution in the Netherlands see other posts:

Pollen in the Netherlands

April 21, 2020
WDG

By Letty de Weger (Leiden University Medical Centrum)

In the coming weeks lots of pollen can be collected. Due to the nice, sunny weather birch trees are in full flower and release their pollen into the air.  This is of course not so good news for the individuals sensitized to the pollen of birch because they can suffer from hay fever symptoms.

Next to birch also the ash trees are flowering. The black buds of the ash branches have bursted, releasing the purple anthers (first figure). Among those anthers you can see some that release their yellow pollen  (second figure).

For more about our project on pollen and pollution in the Netherlands see other posts:

Introducing Cas Verbeek

March 4, 2020
WDG

Cas Verbeek

Cas Verbeek

Hey everyone!

For those who I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting yet; I am Cas Verbeek, a second years Ecology and Evolution MSc student at the University of Amsterdam. For the coming months I am excited to be working with William and Letty to investigate the difference in allergenicity between pollen from urban and rural environments.

This project fits nicely with my BSc thesis where I investigated the taxonomy and phylogeny of pollen chemistry. Hopefully I can apply the experience I have gained there to help make this a successful project! Besides, the data we will be collecting could build on the data I collected during my BSc thesis and help to further unravel the taxonomic and phylogenetic information contained in the chemistry of pollen. I am looking forward to the work that I will be doing with William and Letty, and to share and discuss our progress here with all of you!

-Cas

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.

Continue Reading

African Pollen Database – Data stewards

January 29, 2020
WDG

Neotoma PackratAn African Pollen Database data steward training event was held at the Institute for Biodiversity & Ecosystem Dyanmics (University of Amsterdam, 27-29 January 2020) where training in the use of the Neotoma database was provided by Eric Grimm. The participants are now enabled curate and archive data within Neotoma. If you have a palaeoecological data set that you would like to contribute to Neotoma, or if you would like training as well, these people can now help you. Contact details below:

Continue Reading

African Pollen Database data steward training event

January 24, 2020
WDG

APD “Awesome” in Paris October 2019 – Vincent Montade, William Gosling, Chris Kiathipes, and Manu Chevalier (l-r)

The African Pollen Database (APD; Vincens et al., 2007) has recently received a new life thanks to the work of Anne-Marie Lezine, Eric Grimm, Sarah Ivory and Jack Williams who have obtained funding to develop the digital infrastructure and link to the Neotoma Palaeoecology Database (Williams et al., 2018) and the Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace (IPSL) Paleoclimate database. The kick off meeting was held at the IRD centre in Bondy (October 2019), and the next step (training the data stewards) will be held in my department within the Institute for Biodiversity & Ecosystems Dynamics (University of Amsterdam) next week (January 2020).

Pollen data recorded in Neotoma for Africa on 24 January 2020. Hopefully after the data steward training event we will have a few more dots on the map, and the potential for many more.

We are delighted to be able to host sixteen researchers of many nationalities conducting research in many different countries. The aim of the training event is to provide researchers with the skills to manage Neotoma and strengthen the African pollen research community.  I am excited to be involved, I am confidence that much new research will be brought together, and I hope that we can get good plans in place for further steps and growth of this network.

REFERENCES
Vincens, A., Lézine, A.-., Buchet, G., Lewden, D. & Le Thomas, A. (2007) African pollen database inventory of tree and shrub pollen types. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 145, 135-141.  DOI: 10.1016/j.revpalbo.2006.09.004

Williams, J.W., Grimm, E.C., Blois, J.L., Charles, D.F., Davis, E.B., Goring, S.J., Graham, R.W., Smith, A.J., Anderson, M., Arroyo-Cabrales, J., Ashworth, A.C., Betancourt, J.L., Bills, B.W., Booth, R.K., Buckland, P.I., Curry, B.B., Giesecke, T., Jackson, S.T., Latorre, C., Nichols, J., Purdum, T., Roth, R.E., Stryker, M. & Takahara, H. (2018) The Neotoma Paleoecology Database, a multiproxy, international, community-curated data resource. Quaternary Research 89, 156-177. DOI: 10.1017/qua.2017.105

Blog at WordPress.com.