Loughlin PhD Thesis 2018

July 25, 2018
nicholasloughlin

Nick recovers a sediment core for his PhD project.

Nick Loughlin

Loughlin, N.J.D. (2017) Changing human impact on the montane forests of the eastern Andean flank, Ecuador. PhD Thesis. School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences, The Open University.

Abstract:

The montane cloud forests of South America are some of the most biodiverse habitats in the world, whilst also being especially vulnerable to climate change and human disturbance.

Today much of this landscape has been transformed into a mosaic of secondary forest and agricultural fields. This thesis uses palaeoecological proxies (pollen, non-pollen palynomorphs, charcoal, organic content) to interpret ecosystem dynamics during the late Quaternary, unravelling the vegetation history of the landscape and the relationship between people and the montane cloud forest of the eastern Andean flank of Ecuador. Two new sedimentary records are examined from the montane forest adjacent to the Río Cosanga (Vinillos) and in the Quijos Valley (Huila). These sites characterise the natural dynamics of a pre-human arrival montane forest and reveal how vegetation responded during historical changes in local human populations.

Non-pollen palynomorphs (NPPs) are employed in a novel approach to analyse a forest cover gradient across these sites. The analysis identifies a distinctive NPP assemblage connected to low forest cover and increased regional burning. Investigation into the late Pleistocene Vinillos sediments show volcanic activity to be the primary landscape-scale driver of ecosystem dynamics prior to human arrival, influencing montane forest populations but having little effect on vegetation composition.

Lake sediments at Huila from the last 700 years indicate the presence of pre-Hispanic peoples, managing and cultivating an open landscape. The subsequent colonization of the region by Europeans in the late 1500’s decimated the indigenous population, leading to the abandonment of the region in conjunction with an expansion in forest cover ca. 1588 CE. After approximately 130 years of vegetation recovery, montane cloud forest reached a stage of structural maturity comparable to that seen in the pre-human arrival forest. The following 100 years (1718-1822 CE) of low human population and minimal human impact in the region is proposed as a shifted ecological baseline for future restoration and conservation goals. This ‘cultural ecological baseline’ features a landscape that retains many of the ecosystem service provided by a pristine montane forest, while retaining the cultural history of its indigenous people within the vegetation. Continue Reading

Columbus’ footprint in Hispaniola

May 30, 2018
WDG

Open access for 50 days with this link: https://authors.elsevier.com/c/1X6ja7tFrJFBkG

Castilla-Beltrán, A., Hooghiemstra, H., Hoogland, M.L.P., Pagán-Jiménez, J., van Geel, B., Field, M.H., Prins, M., Donders, T., Malatesta, E.H., Hung, J.U., McMichael, C.H., Gosling, W.D. & Hofman, C.L. Columbus’ footprint in Hispaniola: a paleoenvironmental record of Indigenous and Colonial impacts on the landscape of the central Cibao Valley, northern Dominican Republic. Anthropocene. DOI: 10.1016/j.ancene.2018.05.003

More on “Persistent effects of pre-Columbian plant domestication on Amazonian forest composition”

October 20, 2017
WDG

Crytsal McMichael (University of Amsterdam)

Discussion on human impacts on Amazonian forest…

McMichael, C.H., Feeley, K.J., Dick, C.W., Piperno, D.R. & Bush, M.B. (2017) Comment on “Persistent effects of pre-Columbian plant domestication on Amazonian forest composition”. Science 358. DOI: 10.1126/science.aan8347

Junqueira, A.B., Levis, C., Bongers, F., Peña-Claros, M., Clement, C.R., Costa, F. & ter Steege, H. (2017) Response to Comment on “Persistent effects of pre-Columbian plant domestication on Amazonian forest composition”. Science 358. DOI: 10.1126/science.aan8837

Online, open access:

McMichael, C., Piperno, D., Neves, E., Bush, M., Almeida, F. & Mongelo, G. (2015) Phytolith assemblages along a gradient of ancient human disturbance in western Amazonia. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 3. DOI: 10.3389/fevo.2015.00141

PCRG publications 2013

December 20, 2013
WDG

Gosling, W.D., Miller, C.S. & Livingstone, D.A. (2013) Atlas of the tropical West African pollen flora. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 199, 1-135

Gosling, W.D. & Williams, J.J. (2013) Ecosystem service provision sets the pace for pre-Hispanic societal development in the central Andes. The Holocene, 23, 1619-1624

Miller, C.S., Leroy, S.a.G., Izon, G., Lahijani, H.a.K., Marret, F., Cundy, A.B. & Teasdale, P.A. (2013) Palynology: A tool to identify abrupt events? An example from Chabahar Bay, southern Iran. Marine Geology, 337, 195-201

Roucoux, K.H., Lawson, I.T., Jones, T.D., Baker, T.R., Coronado, E.N.H., Gosling, W.D. & Lähteenoja, O. (2013) Vegetation development in an Amazonian peatland. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 374, 242-255

Rull, V., Montoya, E., Nogué, S., Vegas-Vilarrúbia, T. & Safont, E. (2013) Ecological palaeoecology in the neotropical Gran Sabana region: Long-term records of vegetation dynamics as a basis for ecological hypothesis testing. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, 15, 338-359

Ecosystem service provision sets the pace for pre-Hispanic societal development in the central Andes

July 31, 2013
WDG

Water resources in the Vacas region (near Cochabamba, Bolivia) deminished around the time of the founding of the urban centre at Tiawanaku

Water resources in the Vacas region (near Cochabamba, Bolivia) deminished around the time of the founding of the urban centre at Tiawanaku

Gosling, W.D. & Williams, J.J. (2013) Ecosystem service provision sets the pace for pre-Hispanic societal development in the central Andes. The Holocene, 23(11): 1617-1622. doi: 10.1177/0959683613496296

Click here to download an open access version of this manuscript via The Open University Open Reseach Online repository.

Amazonia before Columbus

May 16, 2012
WDG

Centre for Earth, Planetary, Space & Astronomical Research invited lecture

Amazonia before Columbus – Virgin Wilderness or Domesticated Landscape?
Francis Mayle (University of Edinburgh)
Tuesday 22nd May, 11.15am
The Open University, Milton Keynes

Abstract
Amazonia has long been considered to be a pristine wilderness, largely untouched by human activity, supporting small, scattered indigenous tribes living in harmony with their rainforest environment.
However, recent discoveries of massive geometric earthworks, revealed by deforestation in recent decades, are challenging this ‘virgin wilderness’ paradigm and pointing to substantially greater environmental impacts by pre-Columbian societies than previously supposed.
In my talk I review these archaeological discoveries and discuss how a combined palaeoecological-archaeological approach has the potential to resolve the scale of environmental land use and disturbance associated with these ancient cultures.  I also consider the implications of these findings for understanding rainforest ecology and biodiversity, as well as conservation policy.

If you are external to The Open University and wish to attend this lecture please contact William Gosling in advance.

Click here to find out about CEPSAR seminars

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