Tenured Assistant Professorship: Climate-vegetation dynamics

December 23, 2021

We are seeking to recruit an experienced educator and researcher in the field of climate dynamics, linked to Earth system functioning and/or land-surface processes. The position will be tenured, subject to a positive evaluation of your performance during the initial 12-month temporary appointment.

Deadline: 31 January 2022

Find out more and apply:

PoA 35: Research Articles

December 15, 2021

The second in my series highlighting papers in the recent volume of Palaeoecology of Africa (published entirely open access online) focuses on the research articles. The research articles make up the ‘guts’ of the volume, comprising 10 of the 24 papers. Three of these are from western Africa (Dinies et al.; Gosling et al.; Lemonnier & Lézine), two from eastern Africa (Githumbi et al.; Kinyanjui et al.), two from central Africa (Richards; Gaillard et al.), and three from southern Africa (Chevalier et al.; Hill & Finch, Hill et al.). These research articles present new data and key insights into past environmental change in Africa, which fall into two broad categories, providing information on: (i) how we can extract information from pollen data sets, and (ii) the processes operating to drive vegetation.

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Quaternary Vegetation Dynamics

November 17, 2021

Cover of "Quaternary Vegetation Dynamics: The African Pollen Database"

I am delighted to announce the publication of the new volume in the Palaeoecology of Africa series. I had the privilege to guest edit this with Anne-Marie Lézine and Louis Scott. The final version is now available OPEN ACCESS online.

Gosling, W.D., Lézine, A.-M. & Scott, L., eds. (2021) Quaternary Vegetation Dynamics: The African Pollen Database. Series editor: Runge, J. Palaeoecology of Africa: Volume 35. CRC Press. ISBN: 9780367755089 DOI: 10.1201/9781003162766

Download supporting online material here.

Mapping Ancient Africa

July 16, 2021


I am pleased to announce the start of a new project “Mapping Ancient Africa” funded by the International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA) with support from the Palaeoclimate commission (PALCOM) and the Human & Biospheres commission (HABCOM). This project will bring together Quaternary scientists focused on past climates and environments with those working on human evolution and development in Africa. Through the synthesising data and linking these with modelling approaches we hope to bring together a novel group of researchers to explore the climatic and environmental backdrop to hominin development.

The project will be lead by Stefanie Kaboth-Bahr, Rahab Kinyanjui, Lynne Quick, Sarah Ivory and myself.

Further information on the project can be found on a new “sub-site” within this blog dedicated to the “Mapping Ancient Africa” project. The project is designed to connect researchers working on these topics so if you are interested to be involved please do get in contact. The first meeting will be held in October 2021 online and at four locations: Nairobi (Kenya), Port Elizabeth (South Africa), Potsdam (Germany) and Portland (Oregon, USA) – for further details click here.

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

July 24, 2020

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.

Local vegetation patterns of a Neolithic environment at the site of Tianluoshan, China, based on coprolite analysis

August 8, 2019

Zhang, Y., van Geel, B., Gosling, W.D., McMichael, C.N.H., Jansen, B., Absalah, S., Sun, G. & Wu, X. (2019) Local vegetation patterns of a Neolithic environment at the site of Tianluoshan, China, based on coprolite analysis. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 271, 104101. DOI: 10.1016/j.revpalbo.2019.104101

Modern pollen-vegetation relationships along a steep temperature gradient in the Tropical Andes of Ecuador

March 16, 2019

Hagemans, K., Tóth, C.-D., Ormaza, M., Gosling, W.D., Urrego, D.H., León-Yánez, S., Wagner-Cremer, F. & Donders, T.H. (2019) Modern pollen-vegetation relationships along a steep temperature gradient in the Tropical Andes of Ecuador. Quaternary Research online. DOI: 10.1017/qua.2019.4

Human impact on forest cover in Europe during the last glaciation

February 27, 2019

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.


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Plant Ecology & Diversity

February 22, 2019

I recently joined the editorial board of Plant Ecology & Diversity at the invitation of editor-in-chief Laszlo Nagy (University of  Campinas, Brazil). The journal focuses on ecological and evolutionary issues within plant biology with broad themes covering biodiversity, conservation and global change. Furthermore, I think this is a particularly interesting journal to be involved with because of its option for double-blind peer reviews, commitment to providing a platform for ‘negative results’ and ‘repeat experiments’, and its open access Grubb Review series (Nagy & Resco de Dios, 2016); which already includes many significant articles, including: Ashton (2017), Barbeta & Peñuelas (2016), Grubb (2016), Körner (2018), Valladares et al. (2016), and Wilkinson & Sherratt (2016). In addition to the invited Grubb Reviews the journal publishes: research articles, short communications, reviews, and scientific correspondence. My role on the editorial board will be to cover submissions related to tropical palaeoecology and biogeography. So please consider submitting to Plant Ecology & Diversity if you have some exciting new research or ideas that you think would be appropriate.


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Netherlands Annual Ecology Meeting 2019

February 11, 2019

The Netherlands Annual Ecology Meeting (NAEM) 2019 takes place in the 12 and 13 February. This annual showcase of predominantly Dutch based ecological research will take place, as usual, at Conference Centre “De Werelt” (Lunteren). I am particularly excited this year as, along with Marielos Pena Carlos and Patrick Jansen, I am co-convening a session on “Tropical Ecology”. The first time I have contributed to the program in this way. Our session will be on the second day of the conference and contain the following exciting presentations:

  • 15:00 Predator avoidance and prey tracking in a Neotropical forest (Constant Swinkels, Wageningen University & Research)
  • 15:20 The role of fig volatiles in pollinator specificity and fig diversity (Aafke Oldenbeuving, Naturalis Biodiversity Center)
  • 15:40 Mangrove Atlantis: Can mangroves keep up with extreme land-subsidence? (Celine van Bijsterveldt, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research)
  • 16:00 Break
  • 16:10 The fate of forests in agro-forest frontier landscapes, implications for conservation (Madelon Lohbeck, Wageningen University & Research)
  • 16:30 Trends in the variability of Specific Leaf Area of paramo vegetation during succession (Marian Cabrera, University of Amsterdam)
  • 16:50 Succession dynamics of tree and soil fungal communities in regenerating tropical rainforests are strongly influenced by regional species pool and abiotic factors (Irene Adamo, Naturalis Biodiversity Center)


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