Thoughts on PAGES OSM- with photographic evidence

I am aware that not many people had the great opportunity like me to attend PAGES OSM 2017. Therefore, I wanted to share some of the key things that got stuck with me after the conference.

 

Science

There was an outstanding list of presentations and strong sessions. I am not aiming to pick a favourite, but I would like to highlight the following ones: “From the Mediterranean to the Caspian: paleoclimate variability, environmental responses and human adaptative strategies” with convener Ana Moreno et al, “Do species move or die” with convener N. Whitehouse et al, and specially “Disturbance dynamics across special and temporal scales” with convener Graciela Gil-Romera et al. Papers discussed there were largely multidisciplinary, and generated good discussions.

I felt that the plenaries weren’t as broad, strong or focused as I would have expected. I felt some of them were a little scattered in ideas, and one of them not really tackling the issue of climate change. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed Erik Wolf’s presentation on “Warm worlds”, his presentation was not full of great research and facts, but also felt genuine, and quite fun.

What was a kind of surprise for me, but not for others, was the high quality of research in poster presentations. Back in my time of undergrad and Master studies, a poster presentation was for those that didn’t have a strong enough study to make it to the presentation. Now I can see poster presentation as the new place to showcase research. Having had two posters for PAGES OSM myself (details of presentations below), I can see this as the largest opportunity to actually share and especially discuss, about my research. Added to that is the fact that your work will have a much larger exposure as posters are generally for a whole day which does not compare with the only 15 minutes of oral presentation. I really enjoyed both my posters ads well as oral presentations anyway.

 

At one of my posters

 

Fun time!

 

Heather certainly made a difference with her poster

 

Networking

PAGES OSM really worked as a hub for researchers of common interest in past climate and the environment coming from different disciplines and geographical areas. I met not just colleagues from various institutions from the UK, but also from Chile and Brazil. I also meet new people, especially from Spain, that are doing similar studies in the Mediterranean that I would have not known otherwise. There were great networking opportunities, which is always welcome you can end them up having some quality tapas in a fantastic old town centre.

 

Organisation

I think this has been one of the best organisations I have seen in a conference. I did not notice major issues besides the change of the timetable for the plenaries in the very first day, and some queuing for the lunch time (we really needed those 2 hours lunch break to do this and rest the great lunch afterwards).  I saw everything very well thought and programmed, from the rooms and the system for the presentations to be loaded, up to the timing of the food for breaks and lunch. There was always plenty of bottled water available for us to drink, and of course, a good Wi-Fi (which wasn’t available for free at the Palynology meeting in Bahia last year!)

One thing worth mentioning: the food was fan-tas-tic.  We were almost a 1000 delegates, and the food was always ready, and delicious. The best for me, there was catering for vegetarians and people that have a gluten free diet… and it wasn’t boring! The one not minor issue was that the amount of food for people with special dietary was limited. I saw several colleagues struggling to get enough to eat in most days. Nevertheless, there was something that was never missing: red wine always available at the tables for lunchtime.

 

Gluten free and vegetarian options at the opening ceremony

 

Coffee breaks with fruits!

 

Tasty salad and creamy butternut squash soup for lunch!

 

Venue

The Auditorio de Zaragoza is a spacious place, modern and of a very professional feeling. We could all fit well -yet cosy- for the poster sessions, and at the main room for the plenaries (having in mind that not all people attend the very early talks). Just one thing I found disappointing, which was that two rooms for oral sessions were located in a hotel that was nearby the Auditorio. These rooms were not near to the quality of rooms inside the Auditorio and they felt a little isolated. Still, the organisation on those and the rest of rooms worked out very well, at least in the sessions I was attending.

Zaragoza is a fabulous city to visit, plenty of places of cultural and historic importance, the Goya Museum and archaeological sites amongst them, as well as rich architecture. Places to go for dinner or tapas were plenty, and all at reasonable prices.

Nuestra Senora del Pilar Cathedral and the Ebro River

 

Gorgeous Aljaferia! Vestiges of the time of the caliphs

 

 

I am quite pleased to have attended in PAGES OSM, I’ve got a lot from it. Looking forward to the next one!

 

by Macarena

 

 

H. Plumpton; F. Mayle; B. Whitney. Impact of mid-Holocene drought upon Bolivian seasonally-dry tropical forests

J, Iriarte; M. Robinson; J. de Souza; M. L. Cárdenas; F. Mayle; R. Corteletti; P. DeBlasis. The Making of the Forest: Human-induced spread of Araucaria forest out of their natural range in the southern Brazilian highlands

Iriarte; R. Smith; J. Gregorio de Souza; F. Mayle; B. Whitney; M. L. Cárdenas; J. Singarayer; J. F. Carson; S. Roy; P. Valdes. Out of Amazonia: Late-Holocene climate change and the Tupi-Guarani trans-continental expansion

M. L. Cárdenas; F. E. Mayle; J. Iriarte; J. Gregorio de Souza; P. Ulguim; M. Robinson; R. Corteletti; P. DeBlasis. Past vegetation changes in the context of land use and late Holocene expansion of the Jê pre-Columbian culture in Southern Brazil

Freeman, M. L. Cárdenas; V. Iglesias; J. M. Capriles; C. Latorre; J. Freeman; D. Byers; J. Finley; M. Cannon; A. Gil; G. Neme; E. Robinson; J. DeRose. PEOPLE 2K (PalEOclimate and the PeopLing of the Earth): Investigating tipping points generated by the Climate-Human Demography-Institutional nexus

 

Palaeo-science in the Pyrenees at PAGES YSM 2017

Morillo de Tou – the beautiful location of the YSM

I recently attend the PAGES (Past Global Changes) YSM (Young Scientists Meeting) as well as the OSM (Open Science Meeting) 2017 in sunny Spain. The YSM was particularly exciting – a group of 80 early career researchers met in the Pyrenees, at the restored village of Morillo de Tou.

Morillo de Tou

Morillo de Tou

 

The spectacular surroundings were matched by spectacular science, with a combination of great talks and posters as well as breakout group discussions and workshops. The schedule was pretty packed, but we made time for some star gazing with local astronomers and a night of traditional Aragon music and “dancing” in the moonlight. Overall, I thought the YSM was an excellent opportunity to meet other young scientists, and discuss issues of particular import to our community.

A highlight for me was the breakout discussion on communication with the public and communicating the relevance of palaeo-science to funders and policy makers. We had some great discussions in our group, centering on the need to engage children in science from a young age. We also talked about the importance of telling a story when you present your work, and how talking to politicians and journalists in a positive, optimistic way can enhance engagement.

We also discussed the idea of setting up a PAGES working group for young scientists, with regular meetings to discuss funding, careers and to network. Watch this space!

 

The conference venue at Morillo de Tou

 

I enjoyed presenting my PhD work in the Monday morning session, and received some helpful feedback from fellow YSM participants through a peer review scheme. I think the scheme was a great way to encourage everyone to consider their own presentation style, by reviewing their peers’.

A further benefit of attending the YSM was that we already knew 80 people attending the OSM in Zaragoza, so there were plenty of friendly faces amid the ~900 OSM participants. This made the OSM much less intimidating and more enjoyable. Overall, the organisation of the YSM was incredible and I would certainly encourage early careers researchers to attend the next one in 2021. The only complaint was the cold coffee at breakfast – conference mornings without coffee are a tough sell for sleepy PhD students… but the beautiful Spanish sunshine more than made up for it.

Morning views across the lake at Morillo de Tou

 

If you’re interested in what went on at PAGES 17 (YSM and OSM) check out the #PAGES17 on twitter for some great insights.

By Heather Plumpton 

@heatherplumpton

 

 

 

Exhausting but exhilarating – BES Annual Meeting 2016

BES conference photo

The ACC conference centre in Liverpool lit up at night – a great venue with excellent vegan food choices

 

Last week I attended my first British Ecological Society Annual Meeting and I still don’t think I’m fully recovered. With around 1200 delegates, 12 sessions running in parallel at any one time, lunchtime workshops and socials every night, it was a pretty intense experience. But of course it was worth all of the exhaustion; I met a lot of new people (as well as catching up with a few old friends), listened to some really great presentations, participated in several workshops, and got to present some early results of my own PhD work.

Particular highlights for me were:

  1. The tropical ecology (climate and land-use change) session, including a fascinating presentation by Steven Sylvester who climbed into the high Andes to find pristine forest ecosystems, potentially untouched by humans. This was followed by another excellent presentation on patterns of fire in the Serengeti, and how James Probert is using remote sensing to track fire changes and identify drivers – the interaction between climate and humans look to be interesting here.
  2. Monday lunchtime workshop on ‘Making Brexit work for ecology and the environment’ run by the BES policy team. Some interesting perspectives on the risks and opportunities for conservation and ecology were highlighted; Brexit might allow for a weakening of current standards of habitat and species protections, but it could also be an opportunity to strengthen the protection of taxa that are particularly threatened in Britain, but not elsewhere in Europe. We have to try to see the positives!
  3. An interesting mix of talks in the theoretical, interdisciplinary & computational ecology session, including one by a fellow palaeoecologist – Jane Bunting. I particularly enjoyed her presentation on how palaeoecologists and neo-ecologists need to work more closely together. Perhaps a BES palaeo Special Interest Group should be started??

The whole conference was rounded off in style with the Gala Dinner and after-party, which included a live band performing with video from Planet Earth playing on a large screen in the background – a proper ecology party!

BES gala dinner twitter photo %40pierre_griet

Our table at the BES Gala Dinner, before the David Attenborough party started! Courtesy of @pierre_griet

For anyone who didn’t make it but is interested in what went on, check out #BES2016 on twitter – there was an incredible amount of tweeting going on! Overall, it was a great conference – exhausting but exhilarating – and I’d thoroughly recommend it to anyone considering going next year.

by Heather Plumpton

h.plumpton@pgr.reading.ac.uk 

 

INQUA ECR 2016 Early Career Researcher Conference and Summer School

 

website

We are delighted to announce that we are finally ready to receive abstract submissions for the INQUA ECR Conference and Summer School 2016, at Reading, UK.

 

We have a wide range of activities and fun things to do at this event that you cannot miss, including lectures from renowned researchers, hands-on-training using models and empirical datasets, and of course the great opportunity to share your own research by giving an oral or poster presentation.

 

Check the website for more information

INQUA ECR Committee

 

 

Brain’s pick: European Conference of Tropical Ecology

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Here I want to share what my brain grabbed and maintained the most from the conference I attended last week in Germany.

 

First to mention is that I had a great time at the European Conference of Tropical Ecology. There was a great selection of fantastic talks, really good quality research, and outstanding projects.

OpeningTalk

At the Opening Ceremony, Gottingen University, and plenary talk with Professor Richard Corlett

There was a full-day session in paleoecology which I thought was well rounded covering topics such as ‘Ecological baselines for the high Andes’ with William Gosling, ‘Long-term dynamics of Amazonian rainforest and wetland ecosystems and the role of climate, sea-level, fire and human impact’ with Prof Hermann Behling, ‘Phytolith signatures along a gradient of ancient human disturbance in western Amazonia’ with Crystal MicMichael, and ‘History of geographical parthenogenesis of Neotropical Ostracoda using fossil and molecular data – a consequence of climate fluctuations?’ with Sergio Cohuo.

 

My contribution in this conference was talking about the preliminary findings of the Je Project in an oral presentation entitled ‘Araucaria forest, human land use, and climate change linkages in southern Brazil during the late Holocene’, which was well received and commented.

 

 

Other talks that stand out for me were:

Yadvinder Mahi(University of Oxford), gave a plenary talk on ‘New insights into the metabolism and carbon cycle of tropical forests from a global network of intensive ‘, where he showed some surprising outcomes from their project with GEM (Global  Ecosystem Monitoring Network ). GEM is massive network that measures productivity and gas flux within forest of the Amazon, Africa and Asia. I totally recommend to look at their webpage to look at what they are doing (for example: outstanding results come from Chiquitania in Bolivia)

 

Professor Susan Page (University of Leicester)gave a plenary talk on ‘Swamped! The trials and tribulations of tropical peatland science’: where she shared controversial information regarding management of peats from Indonesia, and the raw reality. A fantastic example of how we can use research for a common good.

 

Minnattallah Boutros a former researcher in conservation, now a business owner, brought another, feared topic to the conference, ‘Bridging the gap – Biodiversity conservation in the frameworks of research and development cooperation’, where she shared her knowledge in how to bring money to do research in ecology and conservation. She seemed to know very well what she was talking about, a great eye opener.

 

Kyle Dexter (University of Edinburg) gave a great presentation on ‘Patterns of dominance in tree communities vary across the major biomes’ and he highlighted how there are hyperdominant taxa, this time also including the Matta Atlantica (finally someone is talking about other biomes other than the Amazon!)

 

 

Other thoughts

Trends. It was very interesting to see stronger trends of research in ecology. A strong current seem to be appearing about Ecuadorian Amazon and Andean vegetation. There was a large session entitled “Developing sustainable land use and functional monitoring systems for the Ecuadorian Andes to cope with environmental change effects” where interesting research was shown. Other strong focus was towards wetlands and their role in carbon cycling, a whole session was on “Tropical wetland ecology”.

 

Staying connected. If there is something that always stands out of the conferences is that I take the most at seeing and talking to people from my field that I wouldn’t normally. Here is the most fun. Talking about projects and getting to know future plans are equally important (specially so you don’t step out in each other’s toes!).

 

Food. Not a minor topic for me (apparently I am a foodie). A delightful surprise from the organisation was to find out fantastic buffet at the Conference reception in the first night, accompanied with a live band that played from jazz, to modern rock. The snacks at coffee breaks were also delightful with selection of food even for vegan-gluten free people, finally!

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Snacks at coffee break… fresh fruit and nuts. Why nobody thought about this before?!

 

Well done to the organisation committee, and everyone attending.

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The band at the reception with a very keen academic

Looking forward to other conferences!

By Macarena

 

Antarctic temperatures, tropical research: Presenting at the QRA postgraduate conference

Between the 2nd and 4th of September, Heather and I attended the 2015 QRA Postgraduate Symposium at the University of Cambridge. As this was a conference only for PhD students, we saw this as a great opportunity to go and present for the first time in a relaxed environment and in front of a friendly crowd!

On the first day we had a guided tour of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) headquarters. These headquarters contain research facilities, laboratories, mapping facilities, geological stores and offices that support the research activities that BAS carry out in Antartica. We saw their marine biological research aquarium, where marine creatures are kept and studied after being bought back from Antartica. The logistics of transporting these creatures made getting samples back from the Amazon seem easy! We visited their mapping department, who produce bespoke maps for the Antarctic region. The researchers on field visits are dependent on these maps, especially the pilots of the aircraft that transport people and equipment across the region to various research stations and outposts. We then nearly froze to death after visiting one of their ice core laboratories! Finally, we saw their geology store where they have thousands of rocks and fossils. Overall, it was fascinating to see the work being carried out in a different field of research to our own – though I think I’m glad of getting to work in the 30-40˚C heat of the Amazon rather than the -20˚C of Antartica! In the evening, we had an ice breaker at the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences. It was quite novel to be eating and drinking wine in the company of some dinosaur skeletons.

The second day saw the start of the main conference. The conference was split into 5 sessions: 1. Ice Cores/Antartica, 2. Ocean Circulation, 3. Palaeoclimate reconstruction of UK/Ireland, 4. Palaeoclimate reconstruction of Eurasia, and 5. Palaeoclimate reconstructions of equatorial regions. We heard some really interesting talks on a wide range of topics such as reconstructing ocean circulations over 1.5 million years, reconstructing postglacial landscapes, looking at climatic impact of anthropogenic land use change, and many more! Mine and Heather’s talks were in the last session, so we had to wait till late afternoon on the second day. Although our projects are quite similar, I felt we successfully gave two complimentary presentations (and I don’t think the audience were too bored after hearing about the Amazon twice in a row!). Heather also got 2nd place in the ‘best presentation’ prize which was great!

 

Richard Smith

Richard at the conference talking about future climate predictions

 

Heather Plumpton

Heather talking at the conference about her sites in the Bolivian Amazon

Overall, it was a great conference to attend. It was the first time we had presented at a conference and the relaxed atmosphere made the whole experience much less stressful than it could have been. Everybody was very friendly and it’s always nice to hear about the interesting research that people are doing.

 

By Richard Smith

Anthropology, Weather & Climate Change Conference

THE ROYAL ANTHROPOLOGICAL INSTITUTE AND THE DEPARTMENT OF AFRICA,

OCEANIA AND THE AMERICAS OF THE BRITISH MUSEUM

RAI

27-29 May 2016

 

Aimed to understand past vegetation and its interaction with human, our group was moved to propose a panel in this conference where multiple disciplines of research as well as the private sector could come together to discuss about the environment-human relationship.

 

About the panel:

 

 Indigenous populations-vegetation-climate relationship in the past: what can this teach us about sustainable vegetation use in the present? (P31)

 

 

This panel invites multiple research disciplines and concerned private and public sectors to share evidence and discuss how knowledge of past climate change and past land use by indigenous cultures help us to understand what affects the vegetation and how this information can be used to protect it.

To know more about the conference, click here

Or contact us for more information about this panel

 

 

Panel abstract:

Threats of climate change and expanding human urbanisation makes the future of worldwide vegetation uncertain. Increasing demands of land for the growing global human population adds pressure to people and governments to protect the remaining native vegetation. Nevertheless, are the large efforts of protecting what seems to be the last places of “pristine” vegetation adequate or enough?

 

Understanding the impact of different factors in changing the vegetation is crucial for their protection. Although modelling is becoming a valid methodology to determine the main factors involved in vegetational change, it is still not specific enough to account for individual communities. Specific information of how the vegetation responds to climate change and human impact can be found in palaeoecological, palaeoclimatic and archaeological studies; these studies give us clues to how the vegetation responds to main factors from millennial to centennial time scales. Combining these disciplines we can also help us to understand the role that past human populations had within a specific landscape allow us to evaluate the role that past humans played in shaping the vegetation we see today.

 

Here we propose a discussion amongst archaeologists, palaeoecologists, palaeoeclimatologists, human geographers, anthropologists, policy makers and NGOs to share both evidence and techniques as well to discuss to what extent past cultures and climate modulated the vegetation we see today in areas considered pristine or well preserved. Special emphasis is to evaluate what can be learned about past cultures and their vegetation/landscape use to help land management and conservation today. We expect this discussion to help integrate valuable knowledge and facilitate decision making today in creating, protecting and improving endangered vegetation communities.

 

 

 

 

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NERC SCENARIO DTP First Conference

My PhD is one of the projects in the first cohort of the NERC funded ‘SCENARIO‘ doctoral training partnership. On Tuesday 9th June, I attended the first SCENARIO DTP conference at the University of Surrey.  The conference was a chance for the existing SCENARIO students and their supervisors to discuss their progress from their first year, and also to meet some of the new students that are starting in September.  The conference was focused around three themes that reflect aspects of many of SCENARIO’s projects, each of which had a guest speaker that gave a talk on the importance of the research area and the challenges we face.

The first theme focused on “Fine-scale simulations”.  Professor Peter Clark gave a talk in which he gave an overview to the scientific challenges and opportunities that arise from the recent step changes in simulation capability for atmosphere and ocean flows.  The second theme focused on “Components of the Earth System”.  Professor Sandy Harrison talked about the need for a multi-component, multi-scale, multi-disciplinary approach to Earth System modelling and the challenges that this brings.  The third theme focused on “Remote sensing and satellite applications for environmental science”, with Dr Christine Chiu giving an overview as to the wealth of data that new satellite instruments are providing and how that data can be used.  As well as these three talks, we also split into three workshop groups and discussed the three research themes.  We talked about hot topics within each research theme and ideas for what future research is needed.

Throughout the day, posters from the first year SCENARIO students were on display (mine can be seen below).  This was a great way to see what research the other students have been doing and facilitated a lot of discussion between the students and supervisors.  Everyone was very enthusiastic about each other’s projects which encouraged us to speak confidently about our research area.  This also gave the new students to engage with the existing students and ask question about the life of a Reading PhD SCENARIO student.

Overall it was a great day that helped put our research projects in context of the challenges and opportunities that we face in Earth system science.

Richard Smith

rsmithresearchposter