This is my first time attending the European Conference of Tropical Ecology and my second visit to Germany. The conference attracted c. 350 delegates; big enough to have plenty of interesting science, and yet small enough to find everyone you wanted to. The keynote speakers chosen to head the days provided some exciting insights into various new developments across the tropics, including: the importance of biogeography (Richard Corlett), metabolism and carbon cycles (Yadvinder Malhi), diversity and resilience (Lourens Poorter), tropical peatlands (Sue Page), agricultural landscapes (Ravi Prabhu), and mutualism of figs and fig wasps (Martine Hossaert-McKay).
From the many other interesting talks five in particular grabbed my attention, these were:
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 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
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  and cutting edge geochemical techniques . 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.