Interested in African paleoecology? Want to incorporate African pollen data into your research or teaching?
The African Pollen Database (APD) has been updated, and the Neotoma Paleoecology Database now contains over 200 APD records. Many community members filled out a recent survey to help us format of our meetings in order to start focusing on helping people use APD data for research and teaching!
This Wednesday, February 8 at 9am EST, we will announce our finalized schedule for the next few months during a short meeting and provide a short (10 minute) walkthrough of the African Pollen Database on the Neotoma Paleoecology Database. Join us live for this short meeting at 9am EST time or check out the recording afterwards, which we will post here.
I would like to publicize the current vacancy for a Full or Associate Professor within the “Earth & Climate” cluster at the VU Amsterdam. Having worked in Amsterdam now for just over two years I really enjoy living in the Netherlands, and find the academic environment very stimulating. There are strong links between the VU Amsterdam and the University of Amsterdam (where I am based).
The VU Amsterdam are looking for someone with a strong track record in palaeoclimate and/or landscape modelling with a focus on Quaternary timescales. I am excited to see this vacancy and I am sure that there would be many opportunities to develop links with the Research Group of Palaeoecology & Landscape Ecology which I head up.
For full details on the vacancy click hereclosing date 1 November 2016.
The month-long palaeoecology module at UvA is coming to an end. We have had two weeks of lectures and microscope work, an introduction to quantitative palaeoecology, and we just finished a week of fieldwork in Twente, which is in the easternmost part of the Netherlands.
Students working in the field (photo: M. Groot)
Will Gosling and I tried something new for the field excursion this year. We split the class into eight groups, and gave each group a set of pollen and phytolith samples from an ‘unknown location’. Unknown in this context means being from one of the eight primary sites that we would visit during the field excursion. The students were required to perform vegetation surveys and characterize soils at each of the primary sites that we visited. The goal of each group was to figure out which location their set of ‘unknown’ samples came from. Basically, we had them doing forensic palynology, with idea that they could then better visualize the different vegetation assemblages seen in the palaeoecological records. Continue Reading
Students examining a sediment core extracted with a Russian corer
Last week, Will – our new associate professor at the University of Amsterdam – joined us on the field residential module of the undergraduate “Paleoecology” course; 7 days exploring the sediments and vegetation of the Twente region of the Netherlands. The experience provided Will with a lot of information on Dutch language, landscapes, and students; which should be useful to him next year as he will be coordinating the course!
Students examining peat exposures.
During this very intensive (4-week) paleoecology course, students get background lectures in past environmental change, learn to identify microfossils in the laboratory (pollen and chironomids), and go on the excursion to experience fieldwork. The field module involves excursions during the day, when students have to identify plant species indicative of different vegetation types in relation to soil nutrient availability and moisture content. The evenings are reserved for the students own paleoecological research investigation; this year students were reconstructing the vegetation history and climate change during the late-glacial from a lake sediment core from Germany. Once data collection was completed the students had to interpret the pollen assemblages they found using the knowledge of modern day ecosystems they gained throughout the week. On the final evening they presented their work to the whole group. The final results they achieved were quite impressive.
Students presenting findings from the days work
I am very curious as to what the course will be like next year, led by Will, and how he will tweak and turn it to his liking.
My final teaching job for The Open University was to help deliver the “Sedimentary Rocks & Fossils in the Field” section of the Level 2 Practical Science module (SXG288) offered by the Science Faculty. I have been involved in all three presentations of this section of the SXG288 module, which will now cease to be offered, and a number of other Earth and environmental science residential schools over the last 9 years.
Having the opportunity to engage directly with students and enthuse them face-to-face about the subject I specialise in is a privilege I have gained a lot from. Furthermore, my over-riding impression from the students I have taught is that they feel they benefit greatly from the opportunity to explore first hand the concepts and subjects which they have previously studied in books and online. Based on my experiences on “Sedimentary Rocks and Fossils”, and other modules as both a tutor and a student, I am convinced that to effectively teach geological, geographical, environmental and ecological subjects effectively an element of field-based teaching is required.
Two tasks dominated the non-research activity: 1) teaching the Geological Record of Environmental Change (S369) exams assessment and assigment, and 2) as Post Graduate Tutor keeping up with NERC developments for the new Doctoral Training Partnerships.
PCRG members on field work in Cayabe-Coca National Park (2012). Left to right: Hayley, Encarni, William and Frazer. Encarni and Frazer have returned to Ecuador Jan-Feb 2013 to collect further sedimentary cores. More on the blog soon…
Finally all that remains is to say “Happy New Year”from the PCRG and on with 2013… 🙂