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.

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

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:

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

UvA-TREUB Symposium Advances in Tropical Research

October 18, 2019
WDG

Date: 18th of  October 2019
Location: Institute for Biodiversity & Ecosystem Dynamics, Science Park Amsterdam
Organisers: Dr. Carina Hoorn and Dr. Crystal McMichael (University of Amsterdam)

Programme

14:00-14:10 WELCOME & OPENING

  • 14:10-14:30: Characterization of phytoliths in mid-elevation Andean forests Seringe Huisman (University of Amsterdam/Treub grant awardee)
  • 14:30 –14:50: Extinction-driven changes in frugivore communities on tropical islands: worldwide and in Mauritius Julia Heinen (University of Copenhagen, Denmark)
  • 14:50 – 15:10: Are the current Amazonian fires unprecedented? Crystal N.H. McMichael (University of Amsterdam)
  • 15:10 – 15:30: On the relationship between tiger conservation and water management Jasper Griffioen, Hanne Berghuis & Ewa van Kooten (Utrecht University)

15:30-16:00: TEA

  • 16:00 – 16:45: Assembling the diverse rain forest flora of SE Asia by evaluating the fossil and molecular record in relation to plate tectonics Robert J. Morley (Palynova, and Southeast Asia Research Group, Royal Holloway University of London, UK)

17:00: DRINKS

For full details visit the Treub web site here.

JOB: Assistant Professor in Soil Carbon Cycling

June 21, 2019
WDG

Assistant Professor (tenure track) in Soil Carbon Cycling
Institute for Biodiversity & Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
University of Amsterdam
Deadline: 3 july 2019

IBED is looking for an Earth scientist/ecologist with expertise and interest in soil carbon cycling, in relation to the role of soil microbial communities therein to support ongoing work within the Department of Ecosystem & Landscape Dynamics (ELD). We are particularly looking for a researcher with an international track record with expertise in one, or more, of the following areas:

  • Interactions between organic carbon and the mineral soil.
  • Microbe-organic C interactions.
  • Molecular and computational approaches for analysing soil microbial communities and their functionality.
  • Scaling of soil carbon cycling processes from microbe to globe.
  • Linking global carbon cycle models and laboratory experiments.

This is one of two positions currently open in Earth Systems Science within ELD. The other position is related to Environmental Chemistry and we will be looking at complimentary between the two appointments.

For further details and information on how to apply click here.

Contact: Franciska de Vries (Prof. Earth Surface Science) or William D. Gosling (Head of ELD)

JOB: Assistant Professor in Environmental Chemistry

June 21, 2019
WDG

Assistant Professor (tenure track) in Environmental Chemistry
Institute for Biodiversity & Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
University of Amsterdam
Deadline: 3 july 2019

IBED is looking for an environmental chemist/environmental scientist experienced in studying sources, transport, transformation and degradation and fate of chemicals in ecosystems to support ongoing work within the Department of Ecosystem & Landscape Dynamics (ELD), and create links with the Department of Freshwater & Marine Ecology. We are particularly looking for a researcher with an international track record with expertise in one, or more, of the following areas:

  • The fate and effects of organic contaminants of emerging concern in the environment.
  • The mitigation of environmental pollution.
  • Environmental policy and circular economy.
  • Regional and larger-scale systems analysis of human impacts on the environment.​

This is one of two positions currently open in Earth Systems Science within ELD. The other position is related to Soil Carbon Cycling and we will be looking at complimentary between the two appointments.

For further details and information on how to apply click here.

Contact: Annemarie van Wezel (IBED Director) or William D. Gosling (Head of ELD)

JOB: Post-doctoral researcher in Global Ecology

June 7, 2019
WDG

Post-doctoral researcher in Global Ecology
Institute for Biodiversity & Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
University of Amsterdam
Deadline: 14 july 2019

There is a 18 month post-doctoral research position within the Department of Theoretical & Computational Ecology at IBED focused on Global Ecology, we are looking for someone with skills and experience the following areas:

  • PhD in ecology, biodiversity or a related discipline
  • quantitative skills and statistical analyses
  • species distribution modelling
  • analyses of species composition, functional traits and species interactions

For further details and how to apply click here, or contact Daniel Kissling

Typha as a wetland food resource: evidence from the Tianluoshan site, Lower Yangtze Region, China

June 3, 2019
WDG

Zhang, Y., van Geel, B., Gosling, W.D., Sun, G., Qin, L. & Wu, X. (2019) Typha as a wetland food resource: evidence from the Tianluoshan site, Lower Yangtze Region, China. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany. DOI: 10.1007/s00334-019-00735-4

Human impact on forest cover in Europe during the last glaciation

February 27, 2019
riannevduinen

This is the first is a series of blog posts based on papers discussed at our “Amsterdam Palaeoecology Club” meetings. The APC meetings are organized to promote palaeoecological discussion and to help the scientific development of our MSc and BSc research students. At each meeting we discuss a paper and the progress of individual projects. Short summaries of the papers and discussions are then made by the student introducing the paper. First up is MSc researcher Rianne van Duinen with her thoughts on Kaplan et al. (2016).

Monkey on a stick

Rianne on field work in Twente during the 2017 edition of the BSc Palaeoecology course at University of Amsterdam

Human impact on forest cover in Europe during the last glaciation
By Rianne van Duinen
(currently studying for MSc Biological Sciences, Ecology & Evolution track at the University of Amsterdam)

We discussed the paper Large scale anthropogenic reduction of forest cover in Last Glacial Maximum Europe by Kaplan et al. (2016) which was found by the group to be super interesting and it incited a lot of discussion. The paper was mostly concerned with the anthropogenic influences and past vegetation of Europe. The main conclusion was that humans had a very big impact on forests during the last glacial period through the use of fire. The authors suggest that human actions are the explaining factor for the low amount of forests cover suggested by pollen records during the last glacial maximum (c. 21,000 years ago). The suggestion from Kaplan et al. that human modification of forest cover through fire during the glacial links with a recent study from Sevink et al. (2018) that suggests, based on pollen and charcoal data from the Netherlands, that human use of fire altered forest cover into the Holocene. In our discussion it was also noted that animals (mega-herbivores) were not really taken into account or discussed, even though animals probably had a big impact on the vegetation (e.g. see Bakker et al., 2016). Furthermore, another discussion point was the charcoal records that were used in the Kaplan et al. study, more specifically the number of cores. Kaplan et al. only used three cores to map out the effect of charcoal. It would be interesting to see what happens when more data from more cores is used. The Global Charcoal Database has a lot of data on European cores (c. 38% of the cores are from Europe) so there is a lot of potential for this.  All in all, the article by Kaplan et al. raised a lot of questions and opened up a nice discussion.

Reference

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Reconstructing past fire temperatures from ancient charcoal material

February 10, 2019
WDG

Gosling, W.D., Cornelissen, H. & McMichael, C.N.H. (2019) Reconstructing past fire temperatures from ancient charcoal material. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 520, 128-137. DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2019.01.029

Click here for open access until 01/04/2019

Note: This article is developed directly from work conducted by Henk Cornelissen during his BSc Future Planet Studies thesis project at the Institute for Biodiversity & Ecosystem Dynamics, University of Amsterdam.

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