OPEN ACCESS ONLINE:

Miller, C.S., Gosling, W.D., Kemp, D.B., Coe, A.L. & Gilmour, I. (2016) Drivers of ecosystem and climate change in tropical West Africa over the past ∼540 000 years. Journal of Quaternary Science online. DOI: 10.1002/jqs.2893

An interview with Phil Jardine

July 1, 2014
philjardine

Well, we’ve heard from Wes and Adele, and now it’s my turn (Phil Jardine) for a bit of a chat on the “Ecology of the past” YouTube channel. Similar to the previous interview videos, I’m talking about my role on the Bosumtwi pollen chemistry project, and what I’ve done (academically speaking) prior to coming to the Open University. Enjoy!

For more videos check out the “Ecology of the past” YouTube channel.

Tropical pollen database online

April 7, 2014
WDG

PollenTo facilitate the our ability to identify pollen in the fossil record we have been building a searchable digital tropical pollen database. Our work builds upon the architecture provided by Bush & Weng (2007) for their Neotropical pollen database (Palaeoecology labFlorida Institute of Technology). We have used Bush & Weng’s freeware tool and expanded it to include an additional 364 pollen and spore types from tropical Africa. The images are of pollen reference material collected over the career of Prof. Dan Livingstone and curated in the Department of BiologyDuke University; full collection details of each specimen are indicated on each individual electronic record. In conjunction with the open access publication “Atlas of the tropical West African pollen flora” (Gosling et al., 2013) we have made the entire updated pollen database available. We hope that this will prove to be a useful tool for palynologists working in Africa and the wider tropics and that it will encourage others to develop the database further.

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Miller PhD thesis 2014

March 26, 2014
lottiemiller

Miller, C.S. (2014) 520,000 years of environmental change in West Africa. PhD Thesis, Department of Environment, Earth & Ecosystems, The Open University.

Lottie 2014

CSM (2014)

Abstract:

Global temperatures are predicted to rise by 2–2.5°C by 2065, profoundly affecting the Earth’s environment. The response of ecosystems to past climate fluctuations can inform on how systems will respond in the future. This thesis focuses on Quaternary environmental changes in West Africa, a region important because of its high ecological value and role in the global carbon cycle.

In 2004, the International Continental Drilling Program recovered c. 291m of sediments spanning the last c. 1 Myr from Lake Bosumtwi (Ghana). Pollen, charcoal and nitrogen isotopes (d15N) were analysed from the most recent c. 150m (c. 520 kyr). The latitudinal position and long duration of this core makes it unique for understanding West African monsoon dynamics and vegetation change.

To aid characterisation of the Bosumtwi pollen succession, an atlas of present-day pollen was constructed for 364 pollen and spore taxa.

The pollen record from Bosumtwi reveals dynamic vegetation change over the last c. 520 kyr, characterized by eleven biome shifts between savannah and forest. Savannah vegetation is dominated by Poaceae (>55%) associated with Cyperaceae, Chenopodiaceae-Amaranthaceae and Caryophyllaceae. Forest vegetation is palynologically diverse, but broadly characterised by Moraceae, Celtis, Uapaca, Macaranga and Trema. Low d15N values correspond to forest expansion and these are driven by high lake levels. The timescale indicates that the six periods of forest expansion correspond to global interglacial periods. The record indicates that the wettest climate occurred during the Holocene, and the driest during Marine Isotope Stage 7.

The vegetation and d15N records show a strong response to glacial-interglacial variability between c. 520–320 kyr and 130–0 kyr. Between c. 320–130 kyr there is a weaker response to glacial-interglacial cycles probably related to high eccentricity during the peak of the 400-kyr component of eccentricity, with high eccentricity resulting in greater seasonality and ultimately drier conditions.

Supervisors: Dr. William Gosling, Dr. Angela Coe (both The Open University) and Dr. Tim Shanahan (University of Texas at Austin)

Examined by: Prof. Henry Lamb (University of Aberystwyth) and Dr. Pallavi Anand (The Open University).

To borrow a copy from The Open University Library click here.

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PCRG PhD studentship opportunity

December 16, 2013
WDG

Funded PhD studentship opportunity, October 2014 start
Department of Environment, Earth & Ecosystems, The Open Univeristy
Central England NERC Training Alliance (CENTA)
Closing date for applications : 31/01/2014

Past tropical vegetation stability: forest-savannah dynamics in tropical West Africa

William D. Gosling & Phil Jardine

  • Maintain a modern pollen monitoring network in lowland tropical West Africa
  • Reconstruct past vegetation change from fossil pollen records
  • Identify signature of approaching tipping points
  • Field work in tropical Africa (Ghana)

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PDRA: Past environmental and climate change in West Africa

March 29, 2013
WDG

Full time Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Temporary contract for 36 months, £27,854 – £36,298
Department of Environment, Earth & Ecosystems, Faculty of Science, The Open University

Closing date : 25/04/2013

The PDRA project will descover more about past vegetation and climate change in Lake Bosumtwi (Ghana)

The PDRA project will descover more about past vegetation and climate change in Lake Bosumtwi (Ghana)

We are seeking a PDRA to study past climate and vegetation change in tropical West Africa as part of the NERC-funded “500,000 years of solar irradiance, climate and vegetation changes” project. You will join a multidisciplinary collaborative research team and will work with an international network of project partners. The project will utilise cutting-edge organic geochemical techniques to generate the longest continuous record of fossil pollen chemistry change. The study will build upon previous research into the sediments recovered from Lake Bosumtwi (Ghana). The data generated will shed new light on the role of climate in driving vegetation change in the tropics.

You will already hold a PhD, or be near to completing your PhD, in a relevant scientific discipline with a background in the Earth or Environmental sciences. You must have substantial experience of organic geochemistry or tropical palynology, with well-developed self-management skills and the ability to prioritise effectively.

The PDRA will work with an associated PhD student looking at modern pollen-vegetation relationships in the same region.

The PDRA will work with an associated PhD student looking at modern pollen-vegetation relationships in the same region.

Co-Investigators:
Dr Barry Lomax (University of Nottingham)
Dr Wesley Fraser (Oxford Brookes University)

Project partners:
Prof . Yadvinder Malhi (University of Oxford)
Prof. Mark Sephton (Imperial College London)
Dr Tim Shanahan (University of Texas, Austin)
Dr Stephen Abu-Bredu (Forestry Research Institute of Ghana)

For further particulars click here.
For information on how to apply click here visit The Open University jobs web site.

Associated PhD project.

The PDRA will be part of an international team; partners based at University of Nottingham, Oxford Brooks University, Imperial College London, Oxford University, University of Texas at Austin and the Forestry Research Institute of Ghana

The PDRA will be part of an international team; partners based at University of Nottingham, Oxford Brooks University, Imperial College London, Oxford University, University of Texas at Austin and the Forestry Research Institute of Ghana

Funded PhD studentship: Tropical vegetation, environment and climate

March 21, 2013
WDG

William Gosling

William Gosling pollen trapping in west Africa. A studentship on the new grant will investigate modern pollen-vegeation relationships

Fully funded NERC PhD studentship tied to 500,000 years of solar irradiance, climate and vegetation changes project.
To start October 2013 now avaliable with the Palaeoenvironmental Change Research Group.

Title: Tropical vegetation, environment and climate: The present is the key to the past

Supervisors:
William D. Gosling (The Open University),
Wesley Fraser (Oxford Brookes University),
Barry Lomax (University of Nottingham),
Mark Sephton (Imperial College London) &
Yadvinder Malhi (University of Oxford)

  • Investigate the dynamics of modern tropical forest and savannah ecosystems
  • Training in micro fossil and organic geochemical analysis
  • Develop a comprehensive understanding of modern pollen-vegetation relationships
  • Field work in Ghana, in conjunction with Forestry Research Institute of Ghana
Making pollen traps on field work in Ghana

Making pollen traps on field work in Ghana

Understanding how vegetation responded to past climate change requires the development of well constrained relationships between living floras, environment and climate. This project will help constrain the great uncertainty which exists as to how tropical ecosystems are represented in the fossil record by examining the relationship between modern vegetation and the pollen it produces. The project will analyse modern pollen rain using a combination of traditional microscopic analysis [1] and cutting edge geochemical techniques [2]. We anticipate that the findings will provide new insight into past vegetation and climatic change.

For further information on the project and how to apply see the full advert: NERC PhD advert. Prior to applying please check eligibility for NERC funding by clicking here.

Closing date: 25th April, interviews will be held at The Open University during May.

To find out more about the department, research environment and student life at The Open Univerity visit the Department of Environment, Earth & Ecosystems, the Centre for Earth, Planetry, Space & Astronomical Research (CEPSAR) and OU RocSoc web pages.

Work as part of a larger research team in the UK and abroad.

Work as part of a larger research team in the UK and abroad.

References:

[1] Gosling, W.D., et al., Differentiation between Neotropical rainforest, dry forest, and savannah ecosystems by their modern pollen spectra and implications for the fossil pollen record. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 2009. 153(1-2): p. 70-85.
[2] Lomax, B.H., et al., Plant spore walls as a record of long-term changes in Ultraviolet-B radiation. Nature Geoscience, 2008. 1(9): p. 592-596.

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